Dear Living Well Daily Reader,
Going to the hospital is never a treat — either you’ve had a painful accident, are very ill or are about to undergo an uncomfortable test or treatment.
But sometimes you get more than medical just attention while you’re there.
Sometimes you also get nasty infection.
They’re called hospital-acquired infections, and over 700,000 Americans suffer from them every year.
While some are treatable with antibiotics, there’s a new one that’s baffling researchers and killing hospital patients.
This new culprit is a yeast called Candida auris.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s responsible for at least 13 infections among hospital patients.
But the bad news gets worse — this dangerous fungus may’ve had a hand in the deaths of four of these patients.
And CDC experts fear cases might skyrocket.
One reason for this is that the fungus can spread within hospitals. For instance, two cases appeared in an Illinois hospital, and two cases were found in a New Jersey hospital. In both hospitals, the patients were on different wards, but the fungus could’ve been spread through contact with hospital workers or medical equipment.
Secondly, the fungus is difficult to identify. There are only a few lab tests that can pinpoint it, one of which is DNA sequencing. Because of this, the potentially deadly fungus might be responsible for many more infections that went unidentified or were misidentified.
Most alarmingly, many samples of the fungus are resistant to most antifungal medications. As of right now, there’s only one drug known to have an effect. This means that even if the fungus is identified, it’s extremely hard to treat.
While this latest infectious discovery is scary, it’s not the only drug-resistant bug you can pick up at the hospital. Currently, there are many drug-resistant organisms in the U.S., 18 of which the CDC has listed as “biggest threats.”
These bugs are a real danger — they can lead to serious, deadly infections and are seemingly everywhere.
Fortunately, there is something you can do to protect yourself.
When you’re in the hospital, as a patient or otherwise, let the staff know you’re informed and concerned about hospital-acquired infections.
And since these bugs can travel through facilities, don’t be shy about asking about the hospital’s infection control plan or telling workers to change gloves before entering your room or rewash their hands before they treat you — doing so just might save your life.
Managing editor, Living Well Daily
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