LAS VEGAS (AP) — Federal public health officials have identified southern Nevada as the place in the U.S. with the highest number of cases of a potentially lethal fungus that is resistant to common antibiotics, and can be a major risk for hospital and nursing home patients.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracked and found that in 2022, Nevada had 16%, or 384 of the country’s 2,377 clinical cases of the superbug called Candida auris — followed by California with 359 cases, Florida with 349 cases and New York with 326.
The CDC findings were reported March 20, the same day that study in Annals of Internal Medicine said cases of the dangerous fungus had tripled in the U.S. over the last three years, and that 27 states and the District of Columbia had reported cases. The earliest infections in the U.S. were reported in 2013.
A year ago, the state Department of Health and Human Services notified health care providers about outbreaks of the fungus in southern Nevada, The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. The fungus was later identified in more than 30 hospitals and long-term care facilities, according to data the newspaper obtained from the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health.
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Since August 2021, more than 1,000 people in southern Nevada have been infected with the fungus, and 100 people have died, according to data the Review-Journal identified from the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory at University of Nevada, Reno’s School of Medicine. Only one case was reported in northern Nevada, in Reno in 2019.
Candida auris, or C. auris, is a form of yeast that is usually not harmful to healthy people, but it can be a deadly risk to fragile hospital and nursing home patients. It spreads easily and can infect wounds, ears and the bloodstream. Some strains are so-called superbugs that are resistant to all three classes of antibiotic drugs used to treat fungal infections. David Hess, a genomic scientist with the state public health lab, told the Review-Journal that C. auris can be compared with MRSA, a drug-resistant staph infection that also is associated with health care settings