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The CDC says the “super bug” fungus has spread to two cities

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MIKE STOBBEAP Medical Writer

New York (AP) — US health officials said Thursday that there was evidence of untreatable fungi prevailing in two hospitals and one nursing home.

Outbreaks of “super bugs” have been reported at nursing homes in Washington, DC and at two hospitals in the Dallas area, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. A handful of patients had an invasive fungal infection that was impervious to all three major classes of drugs.

“This is really the first time we have begun to see clusters of resistance in which patients appear to be infected with each other,” said Dr. Meghan Lyman of the CDC.

The fungus Candida auris is a harmful form of yeast that is considered dangerous to patients in hospitals and nursing homes with serious medical problems. It is most deadly when it enters the bloodstream, heart or brain. The spread of the fungus on patient contact and contaminated surfaces promoted outbreaks in medical facilities.

Health officials have warned about super bugs for years after seeing infections where commonly used drugs are almost ineffective. In 2019, doctors diagnosed three cases in New York that were also resistant to a class of drugs called echinoccandin, which was considered the last line of defense.

In these cases, there was no evidence that the infection had spread from patient to patient — scientists concluded resistance to the drug formed during treatment.

The CDC concluded that new cases have spread.

In Washington, DC, a cluster of 101 C. auris cases in a nursing home dedicated to highly ill patients contained three cases resistant to all three antifungal drugs. Twenty-two clusters of two hospitals in the Dallas area contained two hospitals with that level of resistance. The facility was not identified.

Those cases were seen from January to April. Of the five who completely resisted treatment, three died — both a Texas patient and one in Washington.

Both were ongoing outbreaks, with additional infections confirmed since April, Lyman said. However, the added number of them was not reported.

Researchers reviewed medical records and found no evidence of previous antifungal use among patients in those clusters. Health officials say that means they spread from person to person.

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The Associated Press’s Department of Health Sciences is supported by the Department of Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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