JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Candida auris, a rare and sometimes deadly fungal disease, is spreading through the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC, there has been a “dramatic” increase in cases.

According to the CDC, there have been at least five cases of C. auris in Mississippi.

Doctors said C. auris is concerning because it is often resistant to anti-fungal drugs, making it hard to treat infections. It can also be hard to identify with standard lab tests, making it even more difficult to treat properly and early.

The fungus was first detected in the United States in 2016. The fungus “spread at an alarming rate” between 2020 and 2021 in health care facilities, the CDC wrote in a memo released Monday, and has continued to spread in 2022.

The fungus can affect those who are the age of 65 or older, as well as those with weak immune systems.

Dr. Geri Weiland, a pediatrician at Merit Health River Region, said patients who receive chemotherapy are also at a higher risk of contracting C. auris.

“This could mean that the medications used to prevent fungus isn’t working,” said Weiland. “This could be a major concern for our elders and long term facilities like nursing homes.”

Weiland said there are proper ways to prevent the fungus, but it can be difficult to prevent due to it being hard to detect. C. auris spreads by being on contaminated surfaces or physical contact with an infected individual.

Doctors said household members should practice good hand hygiene:

  • Use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers
  • Frequent handwashing with soap and water

Household members could consider wearing disposable gloves while providing high-touch care to a person with C. auris.

“Since this is more of a contact thing, it’s best to practice good hygiene and being aware of when you are ill,” said Weiland. “Another way to prevent is wearing proper material like gloves if you feel that someone has the fungus.”

Last month, health officials in Mississippi said the fungal infection may be responsible for four recent deaths in the state.