NEW YORK — New York Sen. Chuck Schumer is urging federal officials to declare the drug-resistant superbug an emergency as it continues to spread across the state.
Schumer’s call for the emergency declaration comes just days after the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released an update on the number of confirmed cases.
As of Mar. 31, there have been over 600 confirmed cases in the United States, with 319 confirmed cases in New York and 106 confirmed cases in New Jersey.
Schumer says the emergency declaration will allow federal officials to deliver more money to New York, Long Island and Upstate to help identify, tackle and treat the deadly fungus.
Candida auris, or C. auris, is a fungus resistant to multiple drugs that has been spreading in hospitals and nursing homes worldwide, including in the U.S.
The large majority of cases are in the New York and New Jersey metro area.
The fungal germs can cause blood infections, and in more than one-third of patients with serious cases, death.
C. auris symptoms may not be noticeable because patients are often already sick with another illness when they become infected. Contracting the fungal infection can lead to other health problems, including bloodstream infection, wound infections and ear infections.
Sick patients and ill infants tend to be the most vulnerable to the germs. However, many health care experts warn that if the U.S. health care system doesn’t start using antibiotics more restrictively, a larger part of the population can become susceptible, as C. auris increases its resistance to medications.
For now, the fungus can be treated with anti-fungal medications called echinocandins.
C. auris has caused outbreaks in hospitals and nursing homes and is spread through contact with affected patients and contaminated areas.
To help prevent the spread of the infection, proper hand hygiene and infection control measures should be followed.