An elderly man last May was admitted to Mount Sinai Hospital for abdominal surgery. But a blood test soon uncovered a deadly discovery: he carried a mysterious, lethal germ that doctors knew very little about. Rushed to the intensive care unit, the man was diagnosed with carrying a fungus known as Candida auris, The New York Times reports.
The germ targets people with fragile immune systems and is slowly sweeping hospitals around the world. Since 2014, it struck a Venezuelan neonatal unit, spread across a Spanish hospital, terrorized an esteemed British medical center into closing its ICU, and spread across Southern Asia and South Africa. The fungus has recently been found in New York, New Jersey, and Illinois. As a result, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have declared it as a germ that they classify as an "urgent threat."
Even after the Brooklyn man died after 90 days at Mount Sinai, the fungus did not. Examinations revealed that the bug had contaminated his entire room and was so pervasive that hospital staff needed to rip out parts of the ceiling and floor to get rid of it.
“Everything was positive—the walls, the bed, the doors, the curtains, the phones, the sink, the whiteboard, the poles, the pump,” said hospital president Dr. Scott Lorin. “The mattress, the bed rails, the canister holes, the window shades, the ceiling, everything in the room was positive.”
Medical professionals are so concerned about C. auris largely because major antifungal medications are useless against the germ. It is a "superbug," a drug-resistant infection that could pose as a serious health threat if experts do not find a solution.
Like other superbugs, C. auris developed in response to the overuse of antibiotics and has defense mechanisms that render modern medicine almost useless.