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HICprevent

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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

Fungus Week? The Serious Threat Behind CDC Action

August 15th, 2017

By Gary Evans, Medical Writer

The CDC has declared this the first inaugural Fungal Disease Awareness Week, which sounds like a set-up for some bad jokes and worse puns.

One is tempted to write something about "a fungus among us" or that the CDC “puts the fun in fungus.” Unfortunately, there is actually a serious infectious threat underlying the relatively benign reminder to “think fungus” this week.

Though this wasn’t really addressed in the CDC announcement, the agency’s vaunted Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) has been tracking the global emergence of multidrug-resistant Candida auris. Resistant to many antifungal agents, this bug is capable of causing hospital-associated infections (HAIs) with high mortality in vulnerable patient populations. As previously reported in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention, C. auris can transmit to patients on the hands of healthcare workers, persist in the environment, and colonize people who then serve as a reservoir for outbreaks. As one EIS officer told HIC, the pathogen is spreading more like a bacterial “superbug” than fungi.

“Considering fungal diseases when diagnosing an infection is one of the most important ways to reduce delays in diagnosis and treatment of potentially life-threatening infections,” the CDC said in announcing fungal awareness week.

While this drug resistant strain is still emerging, currently some 46,000 HAIs caused by Candida occur annually in in the U.S.

Gary Evans has written about infectious diseases, occupational health, medical ethics and a variety of other healthcare issues for more than 25 years. His writing has been honored with five awards for interpretative and analytical reporting by the National Press Club in Washington, DC.