Facing the spread of the deadly and highly resistant Candida auris fungus, New York might require nursing homes and hospitals to conduct pre-admission screenings and isolate carriers and the infected.
The considerations by New York State health officials were reported by the New York Times last week. The newspaper reported that Howard Zucker, M.D., the state health commissioner, and a fungal expert from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention met this month with nearly 60 hospitals to discuss possible guidelines.
New York has handled 331 cases of C. auris since it was first identified in 2009. It spreads easily, is extremely resistant to drug treatments, is hard to kill on surfaces and may spread in the air. While scientists are working on ways to short-circuit the fungus itself, New York wants to stop the costly geographic spread.
“We’re at a point where our response strategy needs to change,” Brad Hutton, the state’s deputy commissioner of public health, told the Times. He said it remains undecided whether final guidelines, expected by year’s end, would apply statewide or only in New York City.
Hospitals and other providers have raised concerns about the cost and capacity for rapid testing, while isolation for carriers who aren’t actively infected could take away beds needed by others.
The co-author of a scientific review on the rise of resistant fungi called New York’s proposed steps “draconian” but probably the right thing to do, according to the Times. “We’re dealing with something very unusual here. It seems wise, seeing as we don’t really know what we’re dealing with, to at least attempt control,” Matthew Fischer, a professor of fungal epidemiology at Imperial College London said.