Cases of Candida auris (C. auris), which is resistant to several antifungal medications, has increased each year since it was first reported in 2016. It’s most rapid rise was in 2020 to 2021, according to the study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The number of cases rose by 44% to 476 in 2019, up from 330 in 2018, and subsequently 59% to 756 in 2020 and by an additional 95% to 1,471 in 2021, the agency’s researchers reported on Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Describing the disease as “an emerging fungal threat,” government researchers said 17 states had identified their first case of Candida auris during their analysis period.
Candida auris infections reported in healthcare settings across the U.S. rose by more than 200% during the same period, the study found.
Also concerning was a tripling in 2021 of the number of cases that were resistant to echinocandins, the class of drugs most often recommended for treatment of the disease.
Dr Waleed Javaid – an epidemiologist, infectious disease expert and director of infection prevention and control at New York’s Mount Sinai Downtown – told NBC News that the new findings were “worrisome”. But they do not mean that the world is about to experience an apocalypse like the one caused by an outbreak of cordyceps fungal infections in the hit fictional HBO series The Last of Us, Javaid said.
The researchers also noted an increase in echinocandin-resistant cases and evidence of transmission, which is particularly concerning because echinocandins are first-line therapy for invasive Candida infections, including C. auris. These findings emphasize that improved detection and infection control practices are urgently needed to prevent the spread of C. auris.