A superbug fungus that is resistant to antifungal drugs is proving itself a menace in U.S. hospitals, mostly in New York and New Jersey right now.
Known as Candida auris, the fungus was first discovered in Japan in 2009 and has spread to more than a dozen countries worldwide, according to a news report from the ABC affiliate in Philadelphia.
The CDC said as of April 13, 2017, there have been 39 cases in New York and 15 cases in New Jersey, as well as four in Illinois, and one apiece in Indiana, Maryland and Massachusetts.
"C. auris has caused severe illness in hospitalized patients. Some strains of Candida auris are resistant to all three major classes of antifungal drugs. This type of multidrug resistance has not been seen before in other species of Candida. Also of concern, C. auris can persist on surfaces in healthcare environments and spread between patients in healthcare facilities, unlike most other Candida species," the CDC said.
The news report cited a CDC study that discussed researchers who traveled to South America to help investigate an outbreak in three Colombia cities. The researchers found the fungus on hospital room surfaces, and on nurses' and patients' skin despite their having been treated with antifungal medications.
Those most vulnerable are newborns and elderly people. While 17 patients in New York have died, state officials said those patients had other illnesses, so the fungus was definitively ruled the cause of death, ABC said.
The CDC recommended that healthcare facilities with patients who are infected with C. auris infection should cleaned and disinfected using an EPA-registered hospital-grade disinfectant effective against Clostridium difficile spores.