Thirteen individuals have become ill from a serious and sometimes fatal fungal infection previously unseen in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The fungus, Candida auris, is known to occur in healthcare settings such as hospitals and nursing homes.
Seven cases occurred between May 2013 and August 2016 in four states: Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and New York. As of August 31, four of these seven patients, all with bloodstream infections, died, though it is unclear whether their deaths were due to C. auris.
The remaining six cases were identified after August and are still under investigation. "It appears that C. auris arrived in the United States only in the past few years," Dr. Tom Chiller, Chief of the CDC's Mycotic Diseases Branch, said in a statement. He added that scientists are working to better understand the fungus so they can develop recommendations to protect those at risk.
"Experience outside the United States suggests that C. auris has high potential to cause outbreaks in healthcare facilities," the CDC notes on its website. Importantly, this deadly organism is difficult to identify using traditional laboratory biochemical methods.