The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released another warning about the risk of superbug infections. These are potentially dangerous and even life-threatening infections that are resistant to antibiotic treatments. The infection is particularly dangerous for those with pre-existing health issues, or who have weakened immune systems.
In June 2016, the CDC first warned about Candida auris, reporting that it had learned of seven cases occurring in the U.S. through August 2016. As of May 12, 2017, that number had climbed to 77 cases from seven states, including New York, New Jersey, and Maryland.
Then on May 19, 2017, the CDC released an updated warning in which it reported that additional screening had identified even more cases of Candida auris infections, bringing the total to 122 patients infected through May 2017.
Cases of Superbug Infections on the Rise
The information about Candida auris infections adds to the evidence that superbugs are a growing problem for hospitals and medical centers. Back in October 2016, the CDC warned about the dangerous Mycobacterium chimaera, a bacterium that was infecting open-heart surgery patients in which a heater-cooler unit was used to control body temperature in surgery.
The FDA noted that some Stockert 3T heater-cooler products manufactured by Sorin Group USA, Inc., LivaNova Deutschland GmbH, and LivaNova PLC, had been contaminated with M. chimaera at the manufacturing site. After they were shipped to U.S. hospitals, contaminated devices could then transmit the bacteria into operating rooms where it could infect patients undergoing surgery. The FDA advised hospitals and other medical facilities to immediately remove any devices from service that tested positive for the bacteria.
Today, concerns about the spread of C. auris are growing. The CDC reported, for example, that these infections can be transmitted in hospitals from environmental contamination or health care personnel. Testing conducted in patients’ hospital rooms identified C. auris on mattress beds, windowsills, chairs, infusion pumps, and countertops.
The CDC has recommended care suggestions for patients with C. auris infections, and for infection control.
CDC Reports on Other Superbug Infections Across the U.S.
Cases of antibiotic-resistant infections continue to plague medical centers. In March 2016, the CDC reported that antibiotic-resistant bacteria “are a worldwide public threat”. Each year in the U.S. alone, about two million people become ill because of these infections and approximately 23,000 dies.
The CDC also reported that catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs), central-line associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs), and surgical-site infections (SSIs) are the most common types of hospital-reported infections. Fortunately, between 2013 and 2014, the number of CLABSIs cases dropped by eight percent, and the number of CAUTIs cases dropped by five percent. On the other hand, SSIs and C. difficile infections increased by two percent.
In a 2014 study, researchers reported that by the year 2050, an estimated 317,000 people will die each year because of superbug infections. “The high-level estimates we commissioned,” the researchers wrote, “show just how important it is that we do everything we can both to slow the spread of resistance, and to ensure that we are able to mitigate its impact with effective new treatments to replace those that it renders obsolete.”