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Collin County Says Candida Auris Fungus Responsible For 4 Deaths

McKINNEY, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - Collin County Health Care Services says the Candida auris fungus, which has spread in some North Texas hospitals, is responsible for at least four deaths at two health care facilities in the county.

Collin County reports a total of nine cases.

The first reported case of a drug-resistant Candida auris was received on January 25, 2021.

Multiple health advisories were sent to hospitals and healthcare facilities in early 2021 as cases were identified.

The fungus is a harmful form of yeast that is considered dangerous to hospital and nursing home patients with serious medical problems.

It is most deadly when it enters the bloodstream, heart or brain.

Outbreaks in health care facilities have been spurred when the fungus spread through patient contact or on contaminated surfaces.

Doctors say the general public is not at risk of the hard-to-treat fungus outside of a hospital or health care setting.

Collin County Health Care Services said it is working with the Texas Department of Health and the CDC on controlling the spread.

Collin County HCS said, "We are following the recommendations outlined in the CDC's tiered response plan for novel organisms"

Those recommendations are as follows:

- Promptly notifying facilities of positive results

- Providing guidance to facilities

- Reviewing facilities infection control procedures to identify any gaps

- Conducting laboratory surveillance to identify new cases

Properly following basic infection control practices i.e, hand hygiene, personal protective equipment (PPE) and precautions, and use of proper disinfectants, will prevent the spread of Candida auris within a facility.

The CDC's website noted the following:

Candida auris is an emerging fungus that can cause outbreaks of severe infections in healthcare facilities. In the United States, it has most commonly spread in long-term care facilities caring for people with severe medical conditions. However, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, outbreaks of C. auris have been reported in COVID-19 units of acute care hospitals. These outbreaks may be related to changes in routine infection control practices during the COVID-19 pandemic, including limited availability of gloves and gowns, or reuse of these items, and changes in cleaning and disinfection practices. New C. auris cases without links to known cases or healthcare abroad have been identified recently in multiple states, suggesting an increase in undetected transmission. Screening for C. auris colonization, an important part of containment efforts, has been more limited as resources of healthcare facilities and health departments have been diverted to respond to COVID-19.

(Originally Posted 7/23/2021)

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