A mysterious infection, spanning the globe in a climate of secrecy

Candida auris, a deadly fungus that is resistant to major antifungal agents, is on the rise worldwide. While public health experts have long warned about the risks of the overuse of antibiotics, there has been an increase in resistant fungi, too.

Candida auris, a deadly fungus that is resistant to major antifungal agents, is on the rise worldwide. While public health experts have long warned about the risks of the overuse of antibiotics, there has been an increase in resistant fungi, too. "It's an enormous problem," said Matthew Fisher, a professor of fungal epidemiology at Imperial College London, who coauthored a 2018 scientific review on the increase of resistant fungi. "We depend on being able to treat those patients with antifungals." These resistant germs, or superbugs, are most dangerous to people with immature or compromised immune systems, including newborns, older adults, smokers, and people with autoimmune conditions who take steroids that suppress the body's defenses. However, researchers say that unless more effective new drugs are developed and unnecessary use of antimicrobials is severely limited, the risk could spread to healthier individuals. One issue is that resistant infections are frequently cloaked in secrecy, with some hospitals and local governments hesitant to announce outbreaks for fear of being seen as an infection hub. Still, the germs spread easily—including on hands, hospital equipment, on meat and manure-fertilized produce from farms, and transferred by patients from nursing homes and back. CDC notes that other key strains of Candida have not developed significant resistant to drugs; however, more than 90% of C. auris infections are resistant to at least one drug, and 30% are resistant to two or more. Nearly 50% of individuals who contract C. auris die within about 3 months. A total of 587 cases of C. auris have been reported in the United States, including 309 in New York, 104 in New Jersey, and 144 in Illinois, CDC says.