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Candida auris: The multidrug-resistant fungus

As information about Candida auris spreads throughout social media platforms like TikTok, many questions are raised about the infection and whether it should be of high concern or not.

Candida auris is a type of yeast that can enter the bloodstream and cause bloodstream infections, wound infections and ear infections.

Though the CDC identifies C. auris as a “serious global threat,” McKailey Walters, Healthcare Associated Infections supervisor of Long Beach, cleared up where the infection lays for concern.

“C. auris is not a threat to the general public or to those who do not have healthcare exposures,” Walters said. “C. auris is mainly a threat to patients in long term care settings, especially in elderly or very ill and/or ventilator dependent individuals and is a serious issue in those populations.”

Walters explained that other risk factors may include recent surgeries, diabetes, or overnight healthcare exposures. Students should not worry about it if they are not exposed to ventilator units, nursing facilities and long-term care facilities, she said.

The CDC also emphasizes that those who have tubes going through their body like “breathing tubes, feeding tubes and central venous catheters,” are at high risk of getting C. auris.

C. auris symptoms may not be noticeable due to it mainly affecting people who are hospitalized with serious conditions, such as those with blood cancers or patients who are tube dependent. It can be spread from patient to patient or through contaminated surfaces and family members are advised to thoroughly wash their hands after visiting patients.

C. auris was first identified in Japan in 2009 and is considered an “emerging pathogen” by the CDC due to cases being identified in many countries.

The CDC highlights three main concerns in regard to the fungal infection: its multidrug-resistant nature, the fact that it is easy to misidentify and the outbreaks in healthcare settings.

C. auris is a multidrug-resistant fungus, and antifungal drugs that are typically used to treat Candida do not work for C. auris. The fungal infection can also easily be misidentified through usual laboratory methods, which may lead to improper care for the fungus if the person has it.

Outbreaks have been identified in healthcare settings, which makes C. auris especially important to identify in patients to help prevent the spread in healthcare facilities.

Platforms like TikTok are comparing the infection to the Cordyceps infection in the game and drama series “The Last of Us.”

“The Last of Us” showcases the infection as being apocalyptic and zombie-like but the disaster portrayed in “The Last of Us” is very unlikely to happen, according to Dr. Susan Huang, the medical director of epidemiology and prevention of UCI Health, in an article by Healthline.

“As of today, we are not aware of any cases here on campus,” said Angela Conte, Director of Operations of Student Health Services.

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