WASHINGTON D.C.: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that infections by the potentially deadly fungus Candida auris are spreading rapidly in healthcare facilities in the US, with cases nearly doubling between 2020 and 2021.
This week, the agency's researchers reported in Annals of Internal Medicine that in 2021, the number of cases rose by 44 percent to 476, up from 330 in 2018.
In 2021, the number of cases that were resistant to echinocandins, the class of drugs most often recommended for treatment of the disease, also tripled.
A persistent high fever with chills, even after being treated with antibiotics, could be a sign of a Candida auris infection, and those who are seriously ill, are often treated with invasive medical devices, such as mechanical ventilators, or have long or frequent hospital stays and are particularly at risk, the report said.
In a statement, study leader Dr. Meghan Lyman said, "The rapid rise and geographic spread of cases is concerning and emphasizes the need for continued surveillance, expanded lab capacity, quicker diagnostic tests, and adherence to proven infection prevention and control."
The spread of the infections in 2021 may have been exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare systems, the CDC added.
While the report did not include data from 2022, the CDC's website confirmed 2,377 cases of Candida auris infections in the US in 2022, a sharp increase from 53 in 2016, when cases were first reported in the United States.
Other countries have also reported the spread of the fungus, researchers said.