CHICAGO (CBS) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it has detected more than 700 cases of Candida auris in the United States, and many are in Illinois.
One of the largest clusters of the highly contagious yeast, which can cause deadly infections, is right here in Illinois.
Now the CDC is calling for stronger measures to detect and prevent it. Candida auris has been detected on six continents since it was first identified a decade ago.
Experts say the fungus can cause infection if it gets into parts of the body it should not, such as the blood stream.
It’s usually treated with anti-fungal medicine, but widespread use of antibiotics and antifungals has bred the “super bug” species, and it does not always respond to medication.
The fungus is especially deadly for people with compromised immune systems.
Stephanie Spoor‘s family learned that the hard way after losing a loved one to the infection.
They say doctors pulled them into a meeting to tell them the news.
“It was four or five of us and 13 doctors, and that’s when we knew kind of it was bad,” said Nicholas Spoor, Stephanie’s son.
“It has the very unfortunate capacity of being very, very resistant to some of our antifungals, and it also has the capacity to contaminate the environment and persist in the environment,” said Dr. Mark Rupp of Nebraska Medicine. “So it’s kind of the double whammy in the infection-control world.”
Candida Auris can quickly spread from room to room on people, clothing and even lunch trays.
The medical center has enhanced infection control training and surveillance to keep it contained.