Deadly fungal infection spreading at an alarming rate, CDC says
The CDC's new warning, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, comes as Mississippi is fighting a growing outbreak of the fungus. Since November, at least 12 people have been infected with C. auris with four "potentially associated deaths," according to the state's health department, Tammy Yates, spokesperson for Mississippi State Department of Health said in an email.
There has been ongoing transmission at two long-term care facilities, although cases have been identified at several other facilities in the state.
"Unfortunately, multi-drug resistant organisms such as C. auris have become more prevalent among our highest risk individuals, such as residents in long-term care facilities," said Yates.
The fungus can be found on the skin and throughout the body, according to the CDC. It's not a threat to healthy people, but about one-third of people who become sick with C. auris die.
In the CDC report, researchers analyzed state and local health department data on people sickened by the fungus from 2016 through Dec. 31, 2021, as well as those who were “colonized,” meaning they were not ill but were carrying it on their bodies with the potential of transmitting it to others who might be more vulnerable to it.
The number of infections increased by 59%, to 756, from 2019 to 2020 and then by an additional 95%, to 1,471, in 2021.
The researchers also found that the incidence of people not infected with the fungus but colonized by it increased by 21% in 2020, compared to 2019, and by 209% in 2021, with an increase to 4,041 in 2021 compared to 1,310 in 2020.
C. auris has now been detected in more than half of U.S. states, the new study found.