CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — After a warning issued by the CDC about a deadly fungus that has spread at an “alarming rate,” you’re probably wondering if you or anyone you know is actually in any danger. Luckily, the answer is probably not, but if you, a friend or a family member are currently in the hospital, you should take steps to stay protected against candida auris.
12 News spoke with Dr. Michael Stevens, a professor of internal medicine at WVU and System Healthcare Epidemiologist. Stevens said that everyday people are not likely to contract c. auris, and the people most at risk are people in hospitals who use invasive medical equipment like catheters or stay in hospitals for long periods of time.
“People live with things like candida. It’s part of our microbiome, meaning it’s on us and in us, and that’s a natural sort of thing,” Stevens said. “The problem is when it gets to a place where it’s not supposed to be, like the bloodstream.”
According to Stevens, the best way to protect loved ones from the fungus is simply to wash your hands whenever you enter or leave a hospital room and to speak up if you see someone come into a hospital room who hasn’t done the same or used hand sanitizer. C. auris can be difficult to treat due to its natural resistance to many anti-fungal medications and can cause severe infections with high death rates, according to the CDC.
Stevens also said there are a few factors that make c. auris different from other candida species, and in some ways behave more like a bacteria. Candida auris can be transmitted by environmental surfaces and from objects, allowing it to move from room to room. This is why washing your hands is so important if you visit someone in the hospital, as you could be bringing it to or from somewhere else.
“It’s also sticky, so it likes to get on objects and stay on objects. We have to do some special things, in terms of cleaning, to kill it from the environment. But we know what to do, we know what works, we have cleaning agents that kill it.”
Stevens said that WVU Medicine has been aware of the candida auris fungus and has ways to detect and prevent potential infections or outbreaks.