There’s (still) a fungus among us

Candida auris actively shed in the healthcare environment - Outbreak News  Today

Remember 2019, when the scariest “new” pathogen was Candida auris, a drug-resistant fungus that was creeping into hospitals and nursing homes, often proving fatal to elderly and immune-compromised patients who came in contact with it? C. auris proved difficult to eliminate from infected facilities, sometimes requiring drywall to be ripped out of patient rooms in order to fully decontaminate. 

With all of our attention focused on COVID-19, C. auris and other drug resistant bacteria and fungi have been making a resurgence, according to a recent New York Times report. In Los Angeles County alone, 250 facilities now report C. auris infection, up from just a handful before the pandemic.

Unlike COVID-19, these pathogens cling relentlessly to surfaces, so protocols allowing the reuse of protective equipment in order to conserve resources inadvertently provided a mechanism for these bugs to spread. 

Steroids used to treat COVID-19 patients suppress the immune system, making patients more vulnerable. According to one expert, the spread of these drug-resistant infections shows the danger of “seeing the world as a one-pathogen world”.

Providers have had a laser focus on preventing the aerosol spread of COVID—now is the time to double down on surface decontamination and infection mitigation procedures to make sure we don’t meet the end of the pandemic with the rise of other classes of “superbugs”.

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