HEALTH

CDC says NJ had third-most hospitalizations with drug-resistant fungus

By Jon Hurdle | NJ Spotlight

New Jersey is among the states worst affected by an increasing incidence of the potentially deadly fungus Candida auris, whose resistance to drugs is causing headaches for hospitals, state and federal health officials said on Monday.

There were 104 confirmed and 22 probable cases of people infected by the fungus in New Jersey by the end of February, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up sharply from a handful when the fungus was first identified in the state about two years ago.

The state’s number of cases — now the third-highest after New York and Illinois — 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.

The fungus mostly affects people who have existing illnesses, and may already be hospitalized with compromised immune systems, health officials said.

Nicole Kirgan, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Health, said she didn’t know whether any of the state’s cases have been fatal, and couldn’t say which hospitals are treating people with the fungus because they have not, so far, been required to report their cases to state officials.

“Candida auris is a fungus that is causing serious infections in patients in the United States and around the world, primarily in health care settings, particularly post-acute and long-term care facilities and especially long-term acute care hospitals and skilled nursing facilities that take care of patients on ventilators,” Kirgan said.

But she said the fungus is “still rare” in the U.S., and most people are at “low risk” of getting infected.

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