The fungus is known as Candida auris.

Pierce County Health Department officials issued a health alert on Thursday, and are still  investigating after a Tacoma man was diagnosed with what is believed to be the first case of the fungus in Washington state.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Candida auris is an emerging fungus that presents a serious global health threat. There are three reasons for the CDC's concern about C. auris:

  1. It is often multi-drug resistant; some strains are resistant to all three available classes of anti-fungals.
  2. It is difficult to identify with standard laboratory methods.
  3. It has caused outbreaks in healthcare settings.

The second reason for concern ties directly into this case, as the patient spent three weeks in a Tacoma area hospital before being properly diagnosed on July 13th during an admission screening at Kindred Hospital Seattle.

A press release from the Pierce County Department of Health states that the patient suffers from multiple co-morbidities, however they have not traveled out of the state recently.

C. auris causes bloodstream infections, wound infections, and ear infections. It also has been isolated from respiratory and urine specimens.

Per the CDC's website, "C. auris infections are usually diagnosed by culture of blood or other body fluids. However, C. auris is harder to identify from cultures than other, more common types of Candida. For example, it can be confused with other types of yeasts, particularly Candida haemulonii. Special laboratory tests are needed to identify C. auris."

Also concerning is that this fungus has been shown to kill 1 in 3 individuals who contract it. Beyond that, people who have spent time in nursing homes and have lines and tubes that go into their body, such as breathing tubes, feeding tubes etc., seem to be at highest risk for C. auris infection.

All that being said, it is still not entirely clear how one of these infections actually occur. Though it has been shown that individuals suffering from this fungus can spread it to other, uninfected people.

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