Dozens of people who were treated for Covid-19 in a Florida hospital last summer were also infected with a mysterious, often fatal fungus called Candida auris, according to a study by the US government on Friday.
The multidrug-resistant yeast was first identified in Japan in 2009 and has become a top priority for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in recent years due to its increasing global distribution.
C. auris has been linked to hospital deaths of up to 40 percent and is usually caught in the healthcare sector, especially when people have feeding or breathing tubes or catheters in large veins.
It causes bloodstream, wound, and ear infections, and has also been found in urine and respiratory samples. However, it is not clear whether the fungus is actually infecting the lungs or the bladder.
The most recent outbreak began in July when a hospital – not named in the report – notified the Florida Department of Health of the first four cases of the fungus in patients being treated for the coronavirus.
Over the next month, the hospital conducted an additional screening in its Covid-19 unit, which spanned four floors over five wings, and identified 35 more patients as positive for C. auris.
Follow-up data were only available for 20 of the 35 patients.
Eight of those 20 people died, but it was not clear whether the fungus was the main factor or not.
– “Importance” of the following Recommended Practices –
The Florida Department of Health and the CDC conducted a joint investigation that focused on infection prevention and control measures and identified numerous vulnerabilities.
“Mobile computers and medical equipment were not always disinfected between uses, and medical supplies (such as oxygen tubes and gauze) were kept in open containers,” the CDC report said.
It added that hospital staff wore multiple layers of personal protective equipment (PPE), possibly out of fear of the coronavirus, which is not recommended and actually increases the risk of microbial transmission.
There have also been cases of expanded use and reuse of PPE.
After the hospital removed supplies from the hallways, improved cleaning and disinfection practices, and improved practices related to the use of PPE, no additional C. auris was detected on subsequent investigations.
“Outbreaks such as the one described in this report demonstrate the importance of following recommended infection control and PSA practices and continuing to monitor for novel pathogens such as C. auris,” the report concluded.
C. auris has been documented in more than 30 countries. As of October 31, 2020, around 1,500 US cases have been reported to the CDC.
In the healthcare sector, the fungus can spread “through contact with contaminated surfaces or equipment, or from person to person”, according to the CDC.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)