Hundreds of cases of drug-resistant superbug reported in NYC

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The state's number of cases - now the third-highest after NY and IL - has risen in tandem with an increase, first overseas, and now in the United States, in a trend that some doctors attribute to the overuse of drugs to treat infections, prompting the mutation of infection sources, in this case, a fungus.

In a study of 27 intensive care units in hospitals across the country, 19 were seen having Candida auris, says Dr Arunaloke Chakrabarti.

Experts warn that fungal diseases are developing increasing resistance to drugs in the same way that superbug strains emerged that were immune to antibiotics.

Health officials are warning the public about a deadly fungus called Candida auris (C. auris).

In the United States, two million people contract resistant infections annually, and 23,000 die from them, according to the official CDC estimate.

But when scientists went looking for C. auris in old samples - knowing that earlier tests may have misidentified it or not picked it up - it was hardly anywhere to be found.

In New York, there have been 309 confirmed cases, with an additional 104 in New Jersey and 144 in IL.

A map of Candida auris cases in the United States. As you can see from the map below, New York, New Jersey, and IL have seen the most cases by far-with more than 550 cases between them. Over the past five years, the fungus has now taken roots in India, Pakistan and South Africa.

But how we got here is a mystery: While the fungus seems to have cropped up relatively recently, its genetics reveal distinct groups that evolved apart, on different continents.

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To make matters worse, many people who carry drug-resistant diseases don't show any symptoms and spread them unknowingly.

The yeast targets people with weakened immune systems, such as babies and elderly people, and causes hard-to-cure infections.

Govender says the infection is more prominent in private sector hospitals. Patients who have undergone recent surgery, used central venous catheters, or been hospitalized for lengthy periods, as well as those with diabetes, are particularly at risk.

Are Candida auris infections treatable?

To help prevent the spread of the infection, proper hand hygiene and infection control measures should be followed.

"It's an enormous problem", said Matthew Fisher, a professor of fungal epidemiology at Imperial College London.

"When it becomes resistant, it stays resistant", Chiller said, even though other microbes may lose their resistance when those drugs are no longer used against it.

The fungus can remain on hospital furniture and equipment as well as on human skin for months. It can kill within 90 days.

"Everything was positive-the walls, the bed, the doors, the curtains, the phones, the sink, the whiteboard, the poles, the pump", Dr. Scott Lorin, the hospital's president, told the New York Times.