US reports outbreaks of untreatable fungus in two cities

For the first time ever, researchers have reported cases of people carrying or infected with strains of the dangerous fungus Candida auris that were resistant to all major classes of antifungal drugs before any treatment, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. The agency also reported evidence of some transmission of the strains within health facilities. A handful of the patients had invasive fungal infections that were impervious to all three major classes of medications.

Candida auris, a harmful form of yeast, is considered dangerous to hospital and nursing home patients with serious medical problems as it can cause bloodstream infection and even death. A cluster of 22 Candida auris cases in two Dallas-area hospitals included two with that level of multidrug resistance. The CDC has concluded that the infections were spread from patient to patient, unlike in 2019 when scientists concluded that the resistance to the drugs in three patients in New York formed during treatment. Outbreaks in health care facilities have been spurred when the fungus spread through patient contact or on contaminated surfaces. Health officials have sounded alarms for years about the superbug after seeing infections in which commonly used drugs had little effect. In 2019, doctors diagnosed three cases in New York that were also resistant to a class of drugs, called echinocandins, that were considered a last line of defence. In those cases, there was no evidence the infections had spread from patient to patient — scientists concluded the resistance to the drugs formed during treatment.