Scientists have only known about the Candida auris pathogen since 2009, but it's already rocking the medical world.
This deadly yeast is resistant to antibiotics. It's more infectious than Ebola. And it's popping up everywhere.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are a common story, Wired notes in an article detailing C. auris' rise. But this is a yeast — something so common and relatively harmless in humans that there isn't much research on how to treat them. There are hundreds of antibiotics out there to try on new bacteria, but only a handful of antifungal drugs — none of which treated C. auris when it first appeared as an ear infection in 2009.
Doctors only had one option to treat that initial infection: a set of toxic, IV-only antifungals that leave patients with intense fevers and chills, Wired says. And then two more C. auris infections occurred, in two separate countries, and both in patients' bloodstreams. This time, the infection didn't respond to the toxic treatment, and its 1-year-old and 74-year-old victims died.
Researchers quickly realized how devastating a C. auris outbreak could be. The CDC warned of its global rise in June 2016, but that didn't stop at least 340 cases from popping up in the U.S. as of May 30. All the American outbreaks stem from different sources: a South Asian strain in Oklahoma and Connecticut; a South American strain in Massachusetts and Florida. Up to 60 percent of those infected around the world have died, per Wired.
Without an effective treatment, doctors resort to old-school methods of isolating patients and disinfecting hospital rooms with bleach. C. auris' spread was only stopped in extremely hygienic facilities, per the CDC. It recommends washing your hands to avoid this superbug, which you can read more about at Wired. Kathryn Krawczyk