Federal health officials are warning hospitals and health care workers about an antibiotic-resistant “superbug”, which has already sickened at least 122 individuals in seven different states.
Officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a warning on May 19, raising concerns about the growing number of patients found to be infected with Candida auris (C. auris), a multi-drug resistant infection, which is often fatal for those with a weakened immune system or pre-existing health issues.
The CDC released the statement after routine culture samples of patients nationwide found 77 cases of C. auris in the hospital setting across seven states. New York was found to have 53 active cases of the infection, followed by 16 in New Jersey, four in Illinois, one in Indiana, one in Maryland, one in Massachusetts, and one in Oklahoma.
Further investigation of the outbreak sought to find common denominators among the healthcare facilities where infected patients were staying, and discovered an additional 45 individuals who had come in close and frequent contact with those patients also had traces of C. auris infection.
Researchers from the CDC collected all samples of the C. auris swabs from healthcare facilities and found through whole-genome sequencing and comparison that the fungus was categorized into four distinct clades, with highly related isolates. Further analysis found the isolates were very familiar with the same clade of isolates found in both South Asia and from South America, suggesting there may have been multiple introductions of C. auris into the United States followed by local transmission of the superbug.
Antibiotic “Superbug” Concerns On the Rise
With the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs spreading through the U.S., health officials from the CDC are calling on additional transmission prevention measures to be taken within healthcare facilities. In many cases, patients are more likely to come in contact with a superbug such as C. auris in a hospital setting.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria has risen to the forefront of public concern in recent years, as more drug resistant superbugs emerge. A study published last year revealed patients put in a bed last used by another patient who was treated with antibiotics are 22% more likely to get a hospital-acquired infection. Another recent report warned that one in seven hospital infections are now antibiotic resistant.
The risk of death from antibiotic-resistant bacteria is two to three times greater than from other bacteria. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), deaths from superbugs could reach more than 10 million each year by the year 2050 if additional preventative measures to prevent hospital transmission are not taken.
In a report issued earlier this year on February 27, WHO lists antibiotic-resistant pathogens now as a “global priority” citing some of the most common superbugs have risen over 700% in infection rates.
Much of the blame for the rise of antibiotic superbugs has stemmed from doctors over using antibiotics to treat even minor infections, which has been said is building humans immune system up against antibiotic medication. Despite the continued warnings of the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in hospitals, research has indicated antibiotic-resistant infections cause more than 23,000 deaths each year.