According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Candida auris (C. auris) is a highly contagious drug-resistant fungus that primarily infects hospital patients. It enters the bloodstream, spreads throughout the body, and is very difficult to treat. The disease was first identified in Japan in 2009, but researchers believe it may date back to 1996 in South Korea.
Since then, several cases have been documented in various countries since first being discovered, C. auris is considered an emerging pathogen.
How prevalent is C. auris?
According to an interactive CDC map, there have been 769 confirmed cases of C. auris in the United States as of July 31, 2019. Approximately 375 of them have been reported in New York, 209 in Illinois, 131 in New Jersey, and 24 in Florida. Several other states have had less than 10 confirmed cases.
Those who are the most at risk of dying from infection include:
- Nursing home residents
- Patients in long-term hospital care
- Patients with central venous catheters or other tubes inserted in the body
- Patients who have previously taken antibiotics or antifungal medications
Nursing homes unprepared to contain the spread of the fungus
A New York Times article reports that about half of people infected with C. auris in the United States have died within 90 days. What's worse, C. auris has become a prevalent safety risk to nursing home residents. Due to the severity of this illness, many healthcare facilities will not take on patients infected with it.
The article cites 38 incidents at Palm Gardens Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Brooklyn, NY, which the facility is struggling to contain. Dr. Tom Chiller, head of the fungal division at the CDC, calls many skilled nursing homes "the dark underbelly of drug-resistant infection."
The New York State Department of Health inquired into several long-term healthcare facilities and found that many of them failed to use disposable gowns or latex gloves. They also failed to post warning signs outside of rooms where patients were infected. One facility was found to be missing hand sanitizers.
Public health officials say that infections are more likely to occur among patients living on dedicated ventilator floors in nursing homes. In addition, much of the blame for the spread of this fungus is placed on the overuse of antibiotics in livestock. With the lack of resources to treat and control C. auris and poor facility hygiene, the infection continues to be carried from one patient to the next.
Alabama nursing home infection cases demand strong legal action
C. auris isn't the only threat of infection to nursing home residents. A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases concludes that drug-resistant colonization of pathogens is occurring in facilities at an alarming rate. Many residents and workers could be carrying the germs and passing them along to residents with weakened immune systems.
This is why placing a loved one into a nursing home is such a difficult decision for many people to make. Horrific occurrences such as this are far too common and many facilities fail to do anything to prevent them.
If you're loved one become seriously ill because management or staff failed to maintain a clean and safe facility, they should be held accountable. Speak to the experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Shuttlesworth Law Firm LLC. Their legal team will launch a thorough investigation and find out where the negligence occurred.
We proudly serve victims and their families in greater Birmingham and throughout Alabama. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.