NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The CDC identifies the first cases of what it calls "a serious and sometimes fatal fungal infection" in the U.S. And, it's often drug-resistant.
The CDC found 13 cases of the infection Candida auris.
"What's concerning about it is that it's primarily being seen in healthcare settings, in people who are hospitalized," said LSU Health Infectious Diseases expert Dr. Fred Lopez.
The CDC said the infection was found in hospitalized patients in New York, Illinois, Maryland and New Jersey, who all had "serious underlying medical conditions." Four of those patients died, but the CDC said it's unclear whether it was because of the fungal infection or their underlying conditions.
"We're noticing that the major classes of drugs used to treat fungal infections may not always be effective against this particular Candida," said Lopez. "It's much harder to identify than other Candida infections that we see. We have to do some special types of molecular or other diagnostic tests in order to really identify it accurately, and that's important because if we misdiagnose it or the identification is some other type of fungal ailment, then we might not provide the right treatment."
He adds there's a good possibility there will be more cases.
"There's going to be concern that it's going to show up in many places across the United States. They're just starting the surveillance. These were the first seven reported cases, I believe, from May of 2013 to August of 2016. Since then, they've identified already an additional six cases," said Lopez.
Lopez said people at home shouldn't be too concerned, but for those in healthcare facilities, "If you're in a healthcare setting, the possibility exists that you may encounter these organisms, in which case, one needs to be concerned that they exist," said Lopez.
Lopez said the key to fighting this is to be able to correctly identify and diagnose this particular yeast infection so it can be treated appropriately, and then make sure infection control practices are used to keep it from spreading.