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The doctors in Pittsburgh raise the alarm about a deadly mushroom superbug



A fatal fungus outsmarting the main antimycotic medicines is slowly spreading throughout the United States, causing the infectious disease doctors in western Pennsylvania to prepare for its eventual arrival.

The fungus called Candida auris was confirmed in New York and New Jersey, but no cases have been reported in Pennsylvania, reports the State Department of Health. By March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reported 617 cases nationwide.

"It's only a matter of time before these organisms spread," Dr. Tom Walsh, infectious disease specialist and Quality Medical Director at Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh. "We learn a lot from all the places where it exists."

Nate Wardle, spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said health care facilities are required to report a confirmed case. It also shares all information with health facilities, including through regular announcements and its health alert network.

The CDC sees the fungus as a "serious global health threat". In addition to confirmed cases in 1

2 states, there are more than 20 According to the CDC, countries have reported cases of Candida auris.

"Mortality is very high," Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and Pittsburgh-based infectious disease medical officer. "This is a very difficult microorganism to deal with."

Adalja said that the most vulnerable individuals appear to be patients who already have a chronic illness or a weakened immune system, as well as patients who have already been admitted to a medical facility

According to the CDC, the fungus can cause bloodstream infections, wound infections and ear infections.

The diagnosis of the fungus can be difficult, as conventional laboratory tests can lead to misidentification and inappropriate treatment, making control of the treatment more difficult to spread Candida auris.

It is difficult to treat as it is often resistant to most antimycotics and typically occurs in health care settings – including hospitals and nursing homes – where it could spread quickly. Some strains can be treated with high doses of several drugs, but others are completely resistant according to CDC.

Hard to Prevent

Adalja said that the average person can not do much to get the fungus out of normal hygiene practices like hand washing. There are often no symptoms until it is significantly advanced.

"It is difficult for the general public to take specific measures."

Dr. Graham Snyder, Director of Infection Prevention at UPMC, said that with so many unknowns about Candida auris, it's hard to know what to expect.

"What fascinates about this mistake – and there is still much to learn – we are still learning I do not know where it came from," he said. "It has appeared simultaneously in several different places in the world."

Snyder said it was hard to predict how it would continue to spread. At the moment, this is usually found in health care, but that may not always be the case.

He points to MRSA infections as an example of a drug-resistant bug that only started in medical settings, but after a few years began to emerge elsewhere. The infections are now reported in places like schools and athletes doing sports with a lot of physical contact.

"It's very early in the history of Candida auris," Snyder said. "It is hard to advise a person to say," You should do x, y, z to prevent Candida auris from being received. "

However, hospitals are preparing for the day a patient can be diagnosed with the fungus." 19659002] Walsh said the Allegheny Health Network had begun extensive testing when a patient tested positive for Candida UPMC carries out similar tests.

Walsh said that early identification is key, because the sooner a patient is diagnosed, the sooner he or she can be isolated from the hospital and treated before it affects others

"It's a lot more work, (but we want to make sure we're one step ahead." Emily Balser is a writer on the Tribune review.) You can email Emily at 724-226-4680, emilybalser@tribweb.com .com or via Twitter .