According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 35,000 people in the U.S. die each year from treatment-resistant infections. One of them is Candida auris (C. auris), a drug-resistant fungus that has been spreading globally. Now, New York State has released the names of hospitals and nursing homes where C. auris has been found.
According to the CDC, the problem of antimicrobial resistance is greater than we thought. Approximately 2.8 million people in the U.S. get sick each year from pathogens that don’t respond to the antimicrobial drugs we have available. Annually, that’s 800,000 more than in 2013, when the agency released its last report.
That translates to someone in the U.S. getting a drug-resistant infection every 11 seconds, and someone dying from one every 15 minutes.
There is some good news. Better hygiene practices among doctors and nurses at hospitals have apparently resulted in a 30% decrease in deaths among those patients who do get resistant pathogen infections. In addition, the CDC reports a substantial decline in some drug-resistant infections, including MRSA and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Almost half the C. auris cases in the U.S. are in New York
Treatment-resistant C. auris is immune to one or more major antifungal medications, according to the New York Times. It commonly targets people whose immune systems have been compromised and is spread relatively easily from person to person.
The Times spent much of the last year documenting the rapid rise of C. auris. Now, New York state health officials decided to release the names of hospitals and nursing homes that have been in contact with patients who either had C. auris or were “colonized” with it (had it on their skin.) Those who have been colonized may or may not get sick, but they have the potential to spread the disease.
Of 806 confirmed cases of resistant C. auris infections in the U.S., 388 are in New York. The largest numbers are in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. You can see the list of facilities here.
Health officials stress that patients should not avoid hospitals and nursing homes that have treated resistant C. auris. Their presence on the list does not indicate they are doing anything wrong. In fact, many of the facilities may be handling the superbug well. The idea behind the list was to provide consumers and facilities with information that they can use to gauge the risk and hopefully make improvements.
At the same time, it’s important to recognize that some facilities may not be doing a good job of keeping C. auris in check. If you or a loved one is in a facility that has treated drug-resistant C. auris, contact the facility about their strategy.