'It is intractable and difficult to diagnose', experts say about Candida Auris, a deadly fungus spreading rapidly in hospitals worldwide.
Discovered first in 2009 in Japan, it has recently been found to be particularly lethal. The Candida Auris attacks patients with a weakened immune system such as babies and elderly people. Patients who have been hospitalized in a healthcare facility a long time, have a central venous catheter, or other lines or tubes entering their body, or have previously received antibiotics or antifungal medications, appear to be at highest risk of infection with this yeast. In the past five years it has been seen in a neo-natal ward in Venezuela, a hospital in Spain, and has forced a prestigious British medical center to shut down its intensive care unit.
The fungus has also been identified in India, Pakistan and South Africa. It recently reached New York, New Jersey and Illinois in the US and more than 587 cases were confirmed in the country. Infected patients may die within 90 days. It is difficult to identify with standard laboratory methods, and it can be misidentified in labs without specific technology. "This is a huge problem," said Professor Matthew Fisher, an expert on fungal epidemiology at Imperial College London, who recently published a study on resistant outbreaks of fungi.