Oregon health officials investigate state’s first Candida auris infection

SALEM, Ore. – A fungal infection that’s often drug-resistant has been detected in three Salem patients.

The Oregon Health Authority said it’s investigating an outbreak of the state’s first cases of Candida auris, a type of yeast that can cause severe illness, particularly to people that are already hospitalized or in nursing homes. The risk of infection for otherwise healthy people is reportedly extremely low.

The OHA explained the first case in the state was detected at Salem Hospital on December 11 in a patient who recently traveled abroad. Two more cases that did not have international health exposures, but are linked to the first case, were identified on December 23 and 27, respectively.

“Candida auris is an emerging pathogen of concern because it can cause serious infections, particularly in those with serious medical problems, and can be resistant to the antifungal drugs we have to treat it,” said Rebecca Pierce, Ph.D., Healthcare-Associated Infections Program manager. “Fortunately, the organism we’re dealing with in this outbreak appears to respond to existing treatments. Nonetheless, it’s critical that we prevent the spread of the infection.”

Salem Hospital is reportedly taking action on a number of fronts to get ahead of the spread of Candida auris.

Since 2013, more than 1,000 clinical cases of Candida auris have been identified in the United States. This is the first time there have been any cases of the fungus in Oregon.

Visit the CDC’s Candida auris website at https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/candida-auris for more information.

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