A deadly contagious ‘Last Of Us’ black fungus with a 60 per cent mortality is spreading rapidly through the United States, according to recent reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC).
Candida auris, a rare and dangerous fungal infection with a mortality rate estimated at 30 per cent to 60 per cent, is emerging as a global public health threat.
The fungus, first identified in the United States in 2016, has been spreading rapidly, particularly in healthcare settings, posing a significant risk to immunocompromised patients.
Initially detected in New York state, Candida auris has since spread to 29 states, with New York City being the epicenter of infections for several years
While cases surged in Nevada and California last year, the fungus has been identified clinically in patients in multiple states, indicating a widespread problem. In 2021, there were 2,377 confirmed clinical cases in the US, marking an alarming increase of over 1,200 per cent since 2017.
The fungus has not spared other continents, as Europe reported a nearly doubled number of cases from 2020 to 2021. Its apparent resistance to traditional antifungal treatments and its ability to spread efficiently in healthcare settings means it is a huge challenge for doctors.
Candida auris is also almost always resistant to the most common class of antifungal medication, leaving healthcare providers with limited treatment options.
Dr. Luis Ostrosky, a professor of infectious diseases at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, thinks Candida auris is “kind of our nightmare scenario.”
They said: “It’s a potentially multi-drug resistant pathogen with the ability to spread very efficiently in healthcare settings,” he said. “We’ve never had a pathogen like this in the fungal infection area.”
Experts believe that climate change could be a contributing factor to the sudden emergence and spread of Candida auris. Rising global temperatures may be altering the fungi’s tolerance to warmer environments, which could potentially reduce humans’ natural resistance to fungal infections.