Michigan health officials documented the state’s first case of a rare and potentially serious fungus in an older adult, a spokesperson confirmed to Fox News – but what is Candida auris?
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Bureau of Laboratories on May 27 confirmed Candida auris in a sample taken from ear drainage of a 76-year-old man with chronic ear infections and no overseas travel history in the prior three years, according to a MDHHS health alert shared with Fox News.
“There was no threat to the public and the patient’s healthcare providers were aware and took the proper precautions. There have not been additional cases identified at this time,” Lynn Sutfin, spokesperson for MDHHS, wrote to Fox News in an email on Friday.
The fungus, Candida auris, is a harmful form of yeast that is considered dangerous to hospital and nursing home patients with serious medical problems. It is most deadly when it enters the bloodstream, heart or brain. Outbreaks in healthcare facilities have been spurred when the fungus spread through patient contact or on contaminated surfaces.
The fungus is often multi-drug resistant and it’s difficult to identify, according to the MDHHS health alert issued to local health departments, labs, epidemiologists and healthcare partners following the case. State health officials said 90% of samples are resistant to fluconazole, 30% resistant to polyene and 5% resistant to echinocandins.
“Patients exposed to C. auris may remain colonized for a long time, putting them at risk for a future C. auris infection and further spreading the yeast,” the alert reads.
Michigan labs were instructed to immediately send suspect or confirmed samples to MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories, as well as report any suspect or confirmed cases within a day of diagnosis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Candida auris is an emerging fungus that presents a serious global health threat,” and notes that states like California, Florida, New York and Illinois each reported over 100 probable and confirmed cases from May 2020 to April 2021.
The “superbug” outbreaks were also recently reported in a Washington, D.C, nursing home, with a cluster of 101 C. auris cases, and a cluster of 22 at two Dallas-area hospitals, the CDC reported. A handful of the patients had invasive fungal infections that were impervious to all three major classes of medications.
“This is really the first time we’ve started seeing clustering of resistance” in which patients seemed to be getting the infections from each other, said the CDC’s Dr. Meghan Lyman, following the Dallas and Washington D.C. outbreaks. Lyman noted both are ongoing outbreaks and that additional infections have been identified since April. But those added numbers were not reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.