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Killing Me Quietly: The Invisible Outbreak Of Candida Auris

The COVID-19 pandemic was an outbreak no one could ignore, but what if you heard of an outbreak that you didn’t even know existed? This outbreak has already taken place in the U.S. and has been infecting people at an incredibly high rate. What’s causing this outbreak to occur? A deadly fungus yeast is known as Candida Auris. “The fungus, a type of yeast called Candida auris, or C. auris, can cause severe illness in people with weakened immune systems.”

Health Contributor to NBC News Linda Carroll states in an article she published herself, “The number of people diagnosed with infections — as well as the number of those who were found through screening to be carrying C. auris — has been rising at an alarming rate since it was first reported in the U.S., researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday.” How did this outbreak happen, and where did it begin in the first place?

Senior Writer for NBC News Maggie Fox explains in an NBC News source about the disease’s origins saying, “The yeast is called Candida auris and was first identified in 2009 in a Japanese patient with an ear infection. Since then, it’s been found in a handful of countries around the world.” Now what makes Candida Auris such a deadly infectious disease? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explain in their source that C. Auris can create infections in different parts of the body such as open wounds, the bloodstream, and ears.

People can also get it on their skin and other body areas without getting sick or having an infection. C. Auris mostly affects patients who require complex medical care due to severe medical conditions. Especially, patients who require invasive medical devices such as breathing tubes, feeding tubes, and others are most likely at risk of getting infected with C. Auris.

Most importantly, C. Auris is most spread in healthcare settings among patients and according to the CDC, “It is often resistant to antifungal treatments, which means that the medications that are designed to kill the fungus and stop infections do not work.” It’s equally important to know that C. Auris doesn’t affect healthy people as CDC states, “Healthy people without these risk factors, including healthcare workers and family members, have a low risk for getting infected with C. auris.”

You can only imagine how many lives have been destroyed by this disease, the following people are no different. “I had never heard of C auris. I immediately went online to look it up and the Centers for Disease Control have a whole webpage about it.” Sharon McCreary stated in an interview for Dailymail, 'I read it and I looked at my husband and I said, "This kills 50 per cent of the people who get it." I just had this dread, and it was rightfully placed dread.'

Sharon was 61 years old when her 86-year-old mom Lorraine was taken to the hospital for pneumonia in June. When she started recovering, her health deteriorated quickly. That’s when she was diagnosed with C. Auris, which doctors believed contracted from oxygen tubes. The infection started a chain of events which caused Lorraine’s health to deteriorate into sepsis, kidney failure, and a stroke causing her death.

In another source, a Pierce County man was diagnosed with colonization due to Candida auris. The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department explains the man’s medical condition saying, “The man tested positive at Kindred Hospital Seattle–First Hill during an admission screening, which is a standard of care at the hospital. Before that, he was a patient at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma for about 6 weeks. He suffers from multiple comorbidities and has not recently traveled out of state.”

Finally, there’s me. My dad who was already diagnosed with vascular dementia was admitted to Einstein Hospital in Philadelphia on August 6, 2023. During the two months that my dad was away, he was transferred to Kindred Hospital and Fox Subacute where he had been given a tube for suctioning as well as other medical treatments. My family and I found out that while my dad was being cared for at Kindred Hospital, he contracted Candida Auris due to an outbreak that had taken place at the hospital.

So far, nothing drastic has happened to my dad’s well-being since he contracted this disease, but it’s been quite a new experience for me to take care of my dad while also dealing with the new safety protocols to prevent the spread of the disease. CDC has advised medical professionals that if a patient is colonized with C. Auris, the right approach would be to isolate the patient from those at high risk, clean the rooms with disinfectants, and wear gloves as well as gowns when treating the patient to prevent spreading the disease. This is the protocol my mom and I follow while taking care of my dad with C. Auris.

Like Sharon McCreary, I’ve never heard of Candida Auris myself. Especially with how dangerous it is and how it’s spread rapidly nationwide to healthcare facilities, including the one my dad was staying at. I can only imagine how many other people are impacted by this disease that they were once ignorant of as well. That’s why I chose to write this blog, so I can bring awareness to a disease that kills people quietly.

The sooner you learn this information, the better it will be for you to protect your loved ones from contracting this disease. My family and I learned too late about Candida Auris and were not able to protect my dad from it. My advice is that if you have a family member who is a high-risk individual, investigate your health care facility first before you send your family member there, to see if they have any patients that have contracted C. Auris. This could make a big difference and save lives.

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