Candida auris is a fungus which has spread all over the world, raising alarm in the medical community. Discovered in 2009, the fungus has spread through at least 15 countries with deadly consequences. An elderly man was admitted to Brooklyn’s Mount Sinai Hospital last year, and blood tests revealed he was positive for candida. He was quickly confined to an intensive care unit but died three months after he was admitted.
Even after it kills someone, candida auris remains active and continues to multiply.
According to Dr Scott Lorin, Mount Sinai Hospital’s president, the fungus spread through the entire room the patient was quarantined in.
Talking to the New York Times, he said: “Everything was positive — the walls, the bed, the doors, the curtains, the phones, the sink, the whiteboard, the poles, the pump.
“The mattress, the bed rails, the canister holes, the window shades, the ceiling, everything in the room was positive.”
Hospital workers were forced to pry tiles from the floor and ceiling and use special cleaning equipment to get rid of the fungus.
Candida also preys on those with a weakened immune system, making it even more deadly.
In particular, it takes hold in hospital wards and breeds in people who are already sick.
Hospitals in India, Pakistan, South Africa, Spain and a neonatal unit in Venezuela have all fallen victim to the fungus.
The Royal Brompton Hospital in the UK was forced to close its intensive care unit for two weeks in 2016 as candida swept through patients.
Professor Hugh Pennington, professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University said intensive care patients are among those most at risk.
Talking to the Daily Telegraph, he said: “Candida is in itself a normal fungus which can be found in various places in the body, most notably as thrush.
“When that happens, it’s a nuisance but it’s not life-threatening.
“It becomes life-threatening in the situations we are seeing here, where it is infecting patients whose immune system is down.”
Normally, fungal infections are treated with antifungal medication Fluconazole, but candida is resistant to this.
This makes it a ‘superbug’, one of many infections which are developing a resistance to antibiotics.
As a result, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has put the fungus on a ‘serious threats’ list.
Scientists have warned unless a more viable treatment is made for viruses like this candida could start to infect those with a healthy immune system.