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Potentially fatal fungal infections plague hospitals around New York

Fungal infections are spreading through hospitals across New York at an alarming rate.

A particularly nasty strain of fungal infection has been spreading across hospitals throughout New York and New Jersey, sickening patients and frustrating public health authorities. Infections of Candida Auris, a common fungus, first appeared in Japan back in 2009, and traveled to three continents since then. Cases started appearing in the U.S. last year, and since that time, nearly 100 patients have acquired them. The majority of the infections - over 85 percent - are concentrated in New York and New Jersey facilities.

Unlike traditional yeast and fungal infections, though, C. Auris (as its commonly known), is particularly hard to eradicate because it is resistant to most of the widely used anti-fungal medications. It spreads rapidly through the body and bloodstream, often introduced through vein catheters placed after surgery and during long-term convalescence. These patients are already at risk because their immune systems are compromised. Add in a virulent strain of infection that has the ability to kill about half the people who contract it, and their bodies can be overwhelmed.

Consequences of hospital-acquired infections

Even if hospitals follow proper cleanliness and disinfection protocols, it is possible for C. Auris and other infections to spread from patient to patient. They are sometimes spread through equipment like endoscopes (a major outbreak of endoscope-spread superbugs affected hospitals across the West Coast several years ago), by staffers who pick up spores on their clothes while attending patients, through ventilation systems and by other means.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cautions hospitals and medical facilities to actively take steps to prevent hospital-acquired infections, particularly among patients in intensive care units and long-term convalescence. It is important for patients to understand the potential risks and symptoms; the earliest possible treatment for a hospital-acquired infection is key to the best chance of recovery.

  • These bugs can cause everything from mild skin rashes to ear infections, fungal pneumonia and sepsis.
  • Central venous catheters (sometimes called "central lines") increase the risk of fungal and viral infections. These tubes are placed in patients who need intravenous fluids or nutrition. Their placement unfortunately increases the risk of the infection spreading through the bloodstream.
  • Open wounds, cuts, scrapes and burns are more susceptible to infection than closed or wrapped wounds. Some wounds are left open to encourage healing, but that comes with its own risks.
  • Intensive care unit stays come with a higher risk for C. Auris and Aspergillis infections. An ICU in Britain recently made news because it closed its doors after persistent fungal infections spread from patient to patient. The unit closed and exhaustively cleaned to eradicate the issue.
  • Surgery sites are common entry points for disease. Many post-surgical infections are viral, but fungal infections also affect patients.
  • Ongoing construction or rehabilitation at a hospital increases the chance of fungal infections; construction activity stirs up once-dormant spores.

As you can see, the circumstances in which you can contract fungal or viral infections in a hospital setting are numerous. If the facility doesn't take infection prevention protocols seriously, infections are likely. This can be a tell-tale sign of medical malpractice or lax system-wide cleanliness procedures.

If you or someone you love has suffered a serious infection while hospitalized, you may have a legal claim. Contact an experienced medical negligence attorney like those at the New York City law firm of Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP. They've successfully helped thousands of injured clients collect compensation. Call them toll free today at 866-516-5887 or contact them online to schedule a free consultation.