ILLINOIS (WCIA) — A deadly fungal infection is spreading across the country, and a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows it includes Illinois. But, health experts said not everyone needs to keep their guard up.
The fungus, candida auris, resists many drugs. That makes it hard for doctors to treat.
New data shows Illinois had the fifth-highest number of cases in the country over the last 12 months. 276 cases.
Janet Jokela, the Interim Executive Associate Dean for the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, said COVID has been at the forefront of healthcare for the last few years.
Now, researchers can re-focus and spread their resources, looking at other concerns too.
She said candida auris is far different from COVID.
“Most of the transmission of this fungus occurs in healthcare settings. It’s not an issue going to the gym, or anything like that,” Jokela added.
She’s researched infectious diseases before and is now following this increase. She’s noticed the numbers rising in the last few years.
The fungus often attacks those with weakened immune systems and resists anti-fungal drugs.
“It primarily affects people in the hospital or in long-term care facilities, especially with those facilities that offer, mechanical ventilation,” Jokela said.
Dr. Joseph Calvo, an ER doctor with OSF Healthcare, hasn’t treated anyone with it.
“I am not concerned about candida auris, becoming infected by candida auris. Even if I took care of a patient that has a blood infection or bacteria,” Dr. Calvo said. “Even if I came in contact with it, I would not be worried in the greatest.”
But, what happens if you do come in contact with it?
“For people in the hospital who get infected with this, they may have a fever or they may have a wound that doesn’t heal,” Jokela added.
She knows it’s hard to tell other symptoms since you’re already sick. A lab test is the best way to show if you’re infected, and then figure out how to treat it.
“It’s a mix in terms of what agents it may be responsive to and what it may be resistant to,” Jokela said. “There have been some increasing reports, very small numbers, but some of these candida auris infections are resistant to all the different agents.”
The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD) said there haven’t been any cases in Champaign County.
If you have a loved one in the ICU, a nursing home, or something similar, officials said not to be alarmed.
Follow instructions from the experts within the healthcare facility where you are. If you visit someone in the hospital, wash your hands before visiting.