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Florida has third highest cases of deadly fungus in US

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By: Rebecca Petit | Posted at 7:29 PM, Mar 22, 2023 | and last updated 5:03 AM, Mar 23, 2023

TAMPA, Fla. — A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found a drug-resistant and deadly fungus is quickly spreading through healthcare facilities.

Pastor Tom Johnson often visits parishioners who are hospitalized and has seen what healthcare-associated infections can do.

“A number have gotten something from a hospital, so it’s really not a pleasant thing to hear about,” said Johnson.

Tuesday, Johnson was visiting his wife in the hospital and he was worried after hearing about a fungus rapidly spreading in hospitals across the country.

“Scary, we’ve got things like MRSA in hospitals, so having something like this is just awful,” said Johnson.

The fungus is called Candida Auris. It’s a form of yeast that is usually not harmful to healthy people but can be deadly to people with weakened immune systems.

The CDC has called the fungus an “urgent threat” because it is often multidrug-resistant, easily spreads through healthcare facilities, and can cause deadly diseases.

“In hospitals, Candida yeast infections are most commonly seen because one of the things that facilitate it in people is when people have taken lots of antibiotics. So, they have lowered the good bacteria that we have on our skin or in our intestines and then things have the opportunity to grow, like Candida,” said Dr. David Berger, Board Certified Pedestrian, Owner and Medical Director at Wholistic Pediatrics and Family Care.

The number of people infected by Candida Auris has tripled in the U.S. in the last three years, with more than half of states now reporting it, according to the CDC. Florida saw 349 clinical cases in 2022.

Doctors said properly identifying the fungus is critical so that medical personnel can go the extra mile to treat it.

“If a person is suspected of having a bacterial infection and they’re put on antibiotics and a couple of days later, they’re not getting better, there should especially in a hospital setting, be a high level of suspicion, that this is what’s going on,” said Berger.

Dr. Berger recommended being vigilant to mitigate the spread in medical facilities.

“It’s certainly up to our healthcare establishment to do the right thing. It’s perfectly fine for a patient if they see somebody walking in and doesn’t wash their hands or is sharing something from one to the other to speak up for yourself,” said Berger. “Let it be know, [ask] are you using the proper precautions to prevent me from catching Candida Auris?”

The CDC said pandemic-related strain on the healthcare systems likely drove the increase.