Posted in Health, news

Superfungus Cases Continue to Rise

 

The CDC is now reporting 685 confirmed clinical cases of the fungal infection, Candida auris (C. auris), that unfortunately is resistant to multiple types of antifungal drugs. Moreover another 30 cases are being monitored who were in contact with those infected.  This spike is very worrisome.

map

States reporting C. auris infections include:

  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Indiana
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland
  • Oklahoma
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Texas
  • Virginia

The majority of the cases are in New York, Illinois and New Jersey.  Many of those infected have died but they did have other comorbid conditions, which could have also contributed to their becoming infected with C. auris to begin with.

Please note that this fungus is different from  the species, Candida albicans, which causes common yeast infections.

When investigators first analyzed facilities reporting outbreaks, they found C. auris had colonized mattresses, beds, chairs, counter surfaces, infusion pumps, and window sills.  By this, the superbug demonstrates its resilience outside a human host.

Candida-auris_2016-250px.jpg

IMAGE FROM WIKIPEDIA

The superfungus still has some vulnerability to antifungal medication but its resistance is increasing.

C. auris can cause a variety of infections involving the skin and ear, but most concerning, is sepsis (infection of the bloodstream).  C.  auris was first identified in Japan back in 2009, but upon retrospective review, the CDC states the earliest known strain dates back to 1996. Since then it has been reported in multiple countries including the UK, Israel, South Africa, South Korea, Columbia, Pakistan, Kuwait and Venezuela.

Most hospital disinfectants are currently designed to be antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral.  The CDC has urged healthcare facilities to be diligent in their cleaning practices and to be aware of this “superfungus.”

 

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

 

Posted in Health, news

Superbug Fungus on the Rise

Multiple states are reporting cases of a superfungus resistant to the strongest of anti-fungal medications.

The CDC is now reporting 587 confirmed clinical cases of the fungal infection, Candida auris (C. auris), that unfortunately is resistant to multiple types of antifungal drugs. Moreover another 1056 cases are being monitored who were in contact with those infected.  This spike is very worrisome.

States reporting cases include:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas
  • Virginia

 

The majority of the cases are in New York, Illinois, and New Jersey.  It was first seen in 2016 in Illinois ad 60% of those infected that year had died but they had other comorbid conditions, which could have also contributed to their becoming infected with C. auris to begin with.

Please note that this fungus is different from  the species, Candida albicans, which causes common yeast infections.

When investigators analyzed the facilities, they found C. auris had colonized mattresses, beds, chairs, counter surfaces, infusion pumps, and window sills.  By this, the superbug demonstrates its resilience outside a human host.

 

Candida-auris_2016-250px.jpg

IMAGE FROM WIKIPEDIA

The superfungus still has some vulnerability to antifungal medication but its resistance is increasing.

C. auris can cause a variety of infections involving the skin and ear, but most concerning, is sepsis (infection of the bloodstream).  C.  auris was first identified in Japan back in 2009, but upon retrospective review, the CDC states the earliest known strain dates back to 1996. Since then it has been reported in multiple countries including the UK, Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain,  and Venezuela.

Most hospital disinfectants are currently designed to be antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral.  The CDC has urged healthcare facilities to be diligent in their cleaning practices and to be aware of this “superfungus.”

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network and Board Certified Family Physician

Posted in Health, news

Did the Utah man who was refused a lung transplant die from an infection that came from weed?

The tragic case of a 20 year old Utah man who was denied a life saving lung transplant due to marijuana in his system might have become ill from the marijuana he was smoking.

Riley Hancey, 20, had smoked marijuana with his friends on Thanksgiving and the next day fell ill with pneumonia.  Three weeks later he was in the Intensive Care Unit on life support unsuccessfully battling a “rare lung infection”. A physician at the hospital, the University of Utah, allegedly refused to give Hancey the lung transplant due to his drug test showing positive for THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

The family found “angels” at the University of Pennsylvania who offered to help their son and Hancey received a double lung transplant March 29th.  Unfortunately, he died earlier this week from complications from the transplant.

The family stated their son rarely smoked pot and had been drug free for up to year before then.

This tragic case reignited the controversy of hopeful transplant recipients being denied organs due to recreational marijuana use.  Marijuana has been found to many times contain contaminants including mold.  One reason for organ denial is the risk of fungal infection that could occur in an a immunosuppressed patient who is being treated to prevent organ rejection.

However, did Riley come down with the “rare lung infection” because of the marijuana he smoked the day before?

This month an investigation of marijuana dispensaries in California found 90 percent of marijuana samples to contain traces of bacteria and/or fungus that shouldn’t be harmful to those with healthy immune systems, but could be dangerous to those who are immunocompromised.  As a result the state’s Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation is working to finalize rules and regulations regarding the newly legalized marijuana industry.  Other states are following suit.

Marijuana-Fungi-and-Diseases.jpg

Image from Green CulturED

The investigation occurred after a man in northern California died from a rare fungal infection related to his medicinal marijuana.  Dr. Joseph Tuscano of the University of California, Davis Cancer Center observed with two of his young cancer patients, fungal superinfections that occurred after the men used medicinal marijuana for their chemotherapy-induced nausea.  After combining forces with Steep Hill Laboratories in Berkeley, he found “The cannabis was contaminated with many bacteria and fungi, some of which was compatible with the infections that I saw in my patients.”

His colleague, Dr. George Thompson, a fungal expert at UC Davis, said, “Klebsiella, E.coli, Pseudomonas, Acinetobacter, these are all very serious infections for anybody in the hospital. But particularly in that population, the cancer population. ”

Now, Hancey was in good health prior to his devastating lung infection, playing sports, travelling and working at a ski resort.  So it raises the question of whether his lungs were exposed to a contaminant his body couldn’t fight.   The type of infection that caused his “rare pneumonia” has not been disclosed but the above pathogens listed by Dr. Thompson can all cause “rare pneumonia” unlike streptococcal bacteria and those that commonly cause community acquired pneumonia.

Some researchers suggest users should ingest the marijuana rather than smoking it, as the heat from baking marijuana treats could potentially kill off the microorganisms, that otherwise could have direct contact with the lungs during inhalation.

This is a developing story.

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician

 

 

Posted in Health, news

Killer Mold from Dirty Hospital Sheets Blamed for Five Deaths

above image from MSU today

 

Five deaths have been blamed on fungal infections caused by linens used at two University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) hospitals.  The linens had been supplied by Paris Healthcare Linen’s facility in DuBois, Pennsylvania, and the family of two of the victims filed wrongful death suits against the hospital system.

In 2015, the CDC looked into the first four deaths and could not find the source of the mold.  They reported, “Remediation was performed and there’s no evidence of any ongoing outbreak.”  However the CDC did not investigate the linens or the laundry facility.  It was thought the mold entered the hospital rooms through the ventilation system.

Currently the CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health have no plans to reopen the investigation.

However, UPMC commissioned environmental specialists to investigate the cause themselves and their findings suggest the mold probably originated from the linen plant’s roof near dryer vents. Unfiltered air was used to dry the linens and could have contaminated them prior to being delivered to the hospitals.

The two molds found on tested linens were mucor and rhizopus. These are common molds that rarely affect healthy individuals. The victims, however, were transplant patients who were in an immunosuppressed state to prevent rejection.  In the lawsuit, Daniel Krieg, 56 suffered from a rhizopus pneumonia, one month after his kindey transplant.  Che DuVall, 70, also suffered from the same mold-induced pneumonia, after undergoing a lung transplant. Both mold infections required the patients to undergo lobectomies (lung lobes removed), but neither patient survived.

 

rhizopus_sporangia_X_40_small[1].jpg                  Rhizopus: BioMedHome

 

 

Two other mold-related deaths were settled out of court by UPMC for $1.3 million each.  One additional case was a transplant patient as well, who was treated at their Montefiore campus.

Hospitals routinely contract out laundry services, but whether the CDC reopens this investigation or not, these deaths highlight the need for all external sources to be diligent in their cleaning practices in case they introduce a pathogen into a delicate hospital environment.

 

 

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician