This deadly fungus spread at an 'alarming rate' during the COVID-19 pandemic: CDC
In 2020 and 2021, the dominant health crisis in the United States and other countries was COVID-19 — a disease that, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, has killed more than 6.8 million people worldwide. That includes over 1.1 million fatalities in the U.S.
Although COVID-19 is still high contagious in March 2023, it isn’t as deadly as it was two or three years ago. Millions of people have been vaccinated, and most of 2023’s COVID-19 infections have not been fatal or required hospitalization.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. had another health crisis in 2021 — albeit one that didn’t receive as much attention as COVID-19. The CDC, on Monday, March 20, announced that a deadly fungus spread at an "alarming rate" during the pandemic.
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New York Times reporter Matt Richtel, in an article published on March 20, explains, "The fungus, called Candida auris, preys primarily on older people with weakened immune systems and is particularly dangerous because it resists treatment by common antifungal medications. C. auris was first reported in the United States in 2016, showing up most notably in New York and Illinois, where public health officials hoped they could contain it by rigorous screening and infection control in long-term care facilities and nursing homes. But over the course of 2021, state and local health departments around the country reported 1474 clinical cases, about a 200 percent increase from the nearly 500 cases in 2019."
Candida auris, Richtel reports, is "now in half the 50 states, many with just a handful of cases, but with higher concentrations in California, Nevada, Texas and Florida." The journalist adds that according to CDC data, 2377 infections were reported in the U.S. in 2022.
Richtel observes, "It is likely that the coronavirus pandemic worsened the spread of C. auris, CDC officials said. With attention focused on COVID-19, less emphasis was put on screening for C. auris…. C. auris is not a particular threat to young healthy people, whose immune systems can fight it off, but can be transported on skin and clothing. Those who contract it can experience typical infection symptoms, like fever and chills that can intensify absent treatment. The fungus commonly strikes older patients, particularly those who have many visits or prolonged visits to health care facilities, where it can be hard to clean or eradicate."
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Read the New York Times' full report at this link (subscription required).
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