Illinois health officials offer prevention tips against drug-resistant fungus

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (KWQC) - Word of more cases of a drug-resistant fungus called Candida auris (C. auris) in Illinois is prompting health officials to offer more information and prevention tips. According to a report this week in the Chicago Tribune, the state has confirmed 154 cases, mostly in the Chicago area.

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According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, infection is still rare in the U.S. and most people are at low risk of becoming infected.

Fungal infections caused by C. auris have the potential to cause serious illness, are often resistant to standard medications.

IDPH and local health departments are working with health care facilities to implement and maintain infection control practices to reduce transmission Public health officials are also screening people in health care facilities where cases have been found.

There are steps you can take to protect yourself when receiving medical treatment.

• Make sure health professionals wash their hands..
• Patients and loved ones should make sure their hands are clean as well.
• Patients should feel comfortable inquiring if medical equipment was cleaned after being used on another patient, like a stethoscope or blood pressure cuff.
• Check if the room and surfaces have been cleaned with disinfectant
• Ask what steps the facility is taking to reduce the transmission of healthcare-associated infections.

People who get C. auris or other Candidal infections often have other medical conditions. There is increasing evidence that the spread of C. auris may be particularly high in care facilities and those who require invasive medical care, including ventilators for breathing support, feeding tubes, central venous catheters, and also broad-spectrum antibiotics.

Symptoms of C. auris infection vary depending on the part of the body that is infected. People can also have C. auris on their body without developing an infection or any symptoms. Even without symptoms, it is possible to pass C. auris to other people. People concerned that they may have a fungal infection or healthcare-associated infection should talk to their health care provider.

C. auris can be highly resistant to antifungal drugs, however, most C. auris isolates in Illinois have been treatable.
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IDPH has provided clinical alerts to hospitals, providers, and laboratories – providing guidance on testing, patient management, and appropriate infection control recommendations.