Healthcare facilities see deadly fungus spreading at alarming rate; What area doctors are doing

A potentially deadly fungal infection is spreading at a rapid rate across the country.

The fungal infection is called Candida auris, and a case has been detected in Montgomery County.

The fungal infection was first identified in 2009, data from the Center for Disease Control shows more than half the country has had cases of the infection.

“In 2022, we had three cases in Montgomery County. So far this year, we’ve only had one case in Montgomery County,” Dr. Becky Thomas, medical director of Public Health Dayton-Montgomery County said.

Thomas said the infection is not a threat to healthy people but is to those who are very sick, hooked up to medical devices or frequently stay in healthcare facilities.

“It can be on the skin and not cause an infection, or any symptoms at all,” Thomas said.

>> CDC warns of ‘dramatic increase’ in deadly fungal infections across US

She gave the example of a healthcare worker coming into a hospital or nursing home with an infection on their skin, and passing it on to a patient without knowing.

The infection targets the bloodstream.

It worsens an ailment someone is already dealing with and can contribute to their death.

“It’s hard to separate out the effect from the Candida auris and effect from the other things that are happening,” Thomas said.

There are three classes of antifungal medications that doctors can use, Thomas said, but they aren’t as effective as they used to be.

Officials at Kettering Health said they are aware of this infection and are prepared.

Dr. Jeffery Weinstein, Kettering Health patient safety officer, said that patients are isolated, medical professionals wear gloves and gowns in the rooms, the rooms of infected patients get extra cleaning, and they check in with other patients on the floor for signs of infection.

If more patients are detected in Montgomery County, Thomas said they have a plan.

“We can try to use those medications in combination and we can try and use higher doses or a longer period of time,” she said.

Public Health recommends the best action against the infection is washing your hands and being mindful if you visit a loved one in a healthcare facility.