Local hospitals have been been struggling to stop a deadly, multi-drug resistant fungus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with 15 city hospitals reporting cases since the disease first came to the United States in 2013. Officials say most of the cases in the area were reported in the last year.
[UPDATES BELOW] The 'superbug' fungus, Candida auris, is described by the CDC as "an emerging fungus that presents a serious global health threat." It was first discovered in a man's ear in Japan in 2009, and in the United States four years later. There have been a total of 66 reported cases in the U.S., and 39 of them have been reported in New York, according to health officials.
15 NYC hospitals and one doctor's office have reported harboring the fungus, though no site has reported more than six cases. One hospital in Rochester, NY has also reported one case.
Seventeen New York patients who developed the fungus died, though state health officials note that all the patients suffered other illnesses and may not have succumbed specifically to the fungus.
Hospital patients are particularly prone to Candida auris, which can persist on hospital surfaces and is often misdiagnosed in laboratory tests, and the fungus particularly targets newborns and elderly patients, who have fragile immune systems. It can infect wounds, ears and bloodstreams.
In addition to New York, New Jersey has had 15 cases, Illinois has had 4, and Indiana, Maryland and Massachusetts have each had one case.
The State Department of Health has not responded to request for comment.
Update 12:03 p.m.: A source with the State Department of Health tells Gothamist there have been 44 reported cases on Candida auris in the state so far. They note that the fungus poses no threat to the general public, and that the disproportionate number of cases here are likely due both to the high volume of international travelers in New York and the state's aggressive efforts to identify and tackle Candida auris.
We will update with a full statement shortly.
Update 12:49 p.m.: Here's the statement:
The New York State Department of Health has created a national model with our comprehensive response to Candida auris. Our aggressive actions to expand surveillance and testing for Candida auris in health care facilities has likely contributed to the elevated incidence in New York, coupled with the high number of international travelers entering the state. The Department will continue our proactive efforts to raise awareness and work with health care systems to help them better detect this microbe.