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'It Looks Spooky And It Is': New Call For Action In NY's Battle Against Superbug Virus

A strain of Candida auris cultured in a petri dish at CDC.
A strain of Candida auris cultured in a petri dish at CDC. Photo Credit: CDC

With more than 300 cases of a potentially deadly, multi-drug-resistant germ reported in New York, there has been a new call for the federal government to take action.

On Sunday, May 5, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) urged the government to designate ​the superbug an emergency​ so millions more in funds can be allocated to New York.

Candida auris, an emerging yeast fungus, presents a serious global health threat, according to the Centers for Disease Control. This yeast often does not respond to commonly used antifungal drugs, making infections difficult to treat, said the CDC. 

A total of 319 cases have been reported in New York State, mainly in healthcare facilities.

"It looks spooky and it is," Schumer said on Sunday. "It’s a fungus that has no cure and it’s resistant​. So far there have been more cases reported in New York than anywhere else.”

Those 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, the CDC reports.

“The CDC has the power to declare this an emergency and automatically get us the resources we need," Schumer said. "The CDC should help us stop this bug before it spreads."

The CDC says it's concerned about C. auris for three main reasons:

  • It is often multidrug-resistant, meaning that it is resistant to multiple antifungal drugs commonly used to treat Candida infections.
  • It is difficult to identify with standard laboratory methods, and it can be misidentified in labs without specific technology. Misidentification may lead to inappropriate management.
  • It has caused outbreaks in healthcare settings. For this reason, it is important to quickly identify C. auris in a hospitalized patient so that healthcare facilities can take special precautions to stop its spread.

For more info on Candida auris, click here.

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