CHICAGO (CBS) — Candida auris is a rare, drug-resistant fungus with more than 150 cases across Illinois.
Now a woman in the northwest suburbs has died after she was infected.
Her family is speaking out not just to honor her, but because so many aren’t coming forward and being transparent when it comes to this incredibly dangers fungus.
Stephanie Spoor is one of the 158 cases of Candida auris in Illinois, but she’ll be remembered as so much more than that. She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a beloved teacher and more.
“The lives she changed, it’s amazing,” said her husband Greg Spoor.
He told CBS 2’s Tara Molina about the moment he learned she had contracted the illness while in intensive care for issues related to Lupus at Northwestern Memorial.
“They had found it in a routine blood test,” he said. “The fungal infection prevented any further support or treatment.”
Spoor and his son Jason said they believe she contracted the illness through one of the intravenous treatments she received after a biopsy and following complications.
“Doctors say in her medical records, most likely from a catheter or an intravenous line,” Jason Spoor said.
It hasn’t been easy to learn more about the path of Candida auris because hospitals and nursing homes with confirmed cases aren’t publicly sharing information about them. State health departments aren’t sharing them either because of what they call a risk of scaring the public unnecessarily.
Spoor’s family says they didn’t learn there had been other cases of this in patients at Northwestern until she’d contracted the illness.
“If we understood that there was a risk of this final infection and we understood what this fungal infection was and how serious it was, would we have stayed at Northwestern? Maybe because the nurses and the doctors were great,” Jason said.
The lack of transparency is a huge reason the Spoors want to make their voices heard.
“If we are going to survive these super bugs, these drug resistant bugs, we need to work together, and that’s not what’s happening right now,” Jason said.
Northwestern Memorial is not commenting on this case or whether there are others, and the hospital hasn’t issued any kind of announcement about having any cases of the illness.
There have been 158 cases reported in Illinois since 2016 and nearly 600 across the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report nearly half of those who contract it die within just 90 days, but quantifying that is difficult because most patients suffer from other medical conditions like Spoor.