A mysterious and deadly germ is quickly circumnavigating the globe. The germ, a fungus called Candida Auris, preys on people with weakened immune systems.
It is responsible for an epidemic in a neonatal unit in Venezuela, swept through a hospital in Spain, and has caused the closing of the intensive care unit in a British hospital. It has taken root in India, Pakistan, and parts of Africa. There is no known cure. The germ has now spread to New York, New Jersey, and Illinois, making many people wonder if they are being punished for their stances on infanticide.
The man at Mount Sinai died after 90 days in the hospital, but C. Auris did not. Tests showed it was everywhere in his room, so invasive that the hospital needed special cleaning equipment and had to rip out some of the ceiling and floor tiles to eradicate it.
“Everything was positive — the walls, the bed, the doors, the curtains, the phones, the sink, the whiteboard, the poles, the pump,” said Dr. Scott Lorin, the hospital’s president. “The mattress, the bed rails, the canister holes, the window shades, the ceiling, everything in the room was positive.”
C. Auris is so tenacious, in part, because it is impervious to major antifungal medications, making it a new example of one of the world’s most intractable health threats: the rise of drug-resistant infections.
For decades, public health experts have warned that the overuse of antibiotics was reducing the effectiveness of drugs that have lengthened life spans by curing bacterial infections once commonly fatal. But lately, there has been an explosion of resistant fungi as well, adding a new and frightening dimension to a phenomenon that is undermining a pillar of modern medicine.
Some are blaming the overuse of antibiotics for creating this superbug.