CLEVELAND (WJW) – It is a deadly, drug-resistant fungus that’s spreading rapidly in the US and in Ohio.
The Ohio Department of Health joined the nation’s top health officials Wednesday in sounding the alarm about Candida auris; with a spike in cases in hospitals and long-term healthcare facilities.
“It’s mostly found in nursing homes and hospital settings in people that are hospitalized for long periods of time.”
Cuyahoga County Board of Health Medical Director, Dr. Prakash Ganesh says while fungal infections are common, this specific kind of fungus poses a greater threat because of its resistance to drugs, making it difficult to treat.
As of March 16th, the Ohio Department of Health reported 101 cases in Cuyahoga County and 4 cases in Lorain and Summit Counties, respectively.
The fungus was found in patients of all ages.
“I think the general public, it’s low risk. But people who are hospitalized for long periods of time, people who have other comorbidities…have central lines or tubes attached to them, are more at risk.”
C. auris, as it is also known, can affect the bloodstream, heart or brain and can spread from surfaces like bed rails, or pieces of medical equipment. The fungus can also survive on the skin.
Candida auris is not being viewed as the next COVID. Still, health officials say if it’s not quickly contained, it could become a public health risk.
People should wash their hands frequently when visiting loved ones in a healthcare facility and postpone visits if possible, to help stop the spread.
There were more than 8,000 cases across the United States in December.
Case Western Reserve University recently received a $3-million-dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health to investigate ways to treat and prevent infections.