Discovery of lethal fungal infection causes investigation in Mississippi; 2 deaths identified

Published: Jan. 10, 2023 at 5:11 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The discovery of a drug-resistant fungal infection that causes a severe infection and death in about 60 percent of patients has led to an investigation after its discovery in central Mississippi.

It’s called candida auris, or C. auris, and it primarily affects those already being treated for multiple serious or chronic health conditions, according to the University of Mississippi Medical Center. It often spreads in a hospital or long-term care facility.

An outbreak of the infection has occurred in one such facility in central Mississippi, the hospital states, with the discovery being described as “a serious and developing situation.”

According to an advisory by the Missississippi State Department of Health, two deaths due to the C. auris infection have been reported since December 23. In all, at least 19 cases of C. auris colonization have also been identified. “Colonization” refers to the presence of microorganisms that can cause infection, but not the infection itself.

The deaths and colonization have all occurred at a local long-term care facility, one which has not been named.

“[C. auris] causes serious infections, and more than 1 in 3 patients die within a month of being diagnosed with an invasive C. auris infection,” the MSDH advisory stated. “Antifungal medications commonly used to treat other Candida infections are often not effective against C. auris.

The CDC calls C. auris an emerging global health threat. The infection causes flu-like symptoms, making it difficult to confirm without testing.

MSDH is asking healthcare facilities to have a response plan to the burgeoning disease and to know which patients are most at risk for the infection. If C. auris is identified, those facilities are asked to report it immediately.

Want more WLBT news in your inbox? Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.