First outbreak in Quebec of a deadly super-fungus
Resistant to treatments, Candida auris worries the whole world. It would be favored by the climate crisis.
The transmission of the fungus between patients took place in a surgical unit of Pierre-Boucher Hospital.
A national crisis unit is mobilized and an investigation is underway at Pierre-Boucher Hospital in Longueuil, where the “killer fungus” has spread, Radio-Canada has learned. This is the first time an outbreak of Candida auris has occurred in Quebec.
Most Hospital employees unaware that this intruder is present in their establishment. According to a public health source, authorities have asked those informed to exercise discretion.
Candida auris attacks hospitalized patients, primarily those with weakened immune systems or those undergoing surgery or intravenous therapy. An infected person has a 30-60% chance of dying.
As early as September 8, the presence of the deadly fungus was suspected in the armpits of a 65-year-old patient being treated for pneumonia at Pierre-Boucher. The positive case was formalized on September 15 by the Laboratoire de santé publique du Québec.
Then, on September 19, a second case was confirmed. It was another occupant of the same room. He died the following day, in intensive care, from another cause.
The Pierre Hospital- Boucher is located in Longueuil.
What concerns the health authorities is that neither of the two patients was returning from abroad. An outbreak statement was issued to relevant health care personnel on Tuesday.
The CISSS de la Montérégie-Est has informed Radio-Canada that three other hospital users who have had close contacts are under investigation. However, according to our sources, dozens of patients would have been screened, on several units, because they would have had direct or indirect contact with the positive cases.
That worries me enormously, says a member of the medical staff of the establishment, informed of the situation, who is not authorized to speak about it.
“We knew that eventually Candida auriswas going to come to Quebec, it was a matter of time when you look at what is happening in the United States. I'm just surprised he's in Quebec so quickly. »
— A member of the medical profession briefed on the situation at Pierre-Boucher Hospital
Super-yeast is a growing concern for American health authorities . On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) again issued a warning.
In addition to being difficult to detect, Candida auris resistant to antifungal treatments. The problem has become endemic in the United States, where more and more cases are being detected in hospitals.
Case count of Candida auris in the United States from June 1, 2021 to May 31, 2022.
It is difficult to get rid of the fungus on surfaces, up to several weeks. In 2019, at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, sections of the walls and ceiling had to be removed and replaced to successfully eradicate the fungus from the contaminated walls.
An article of the New York Times reported that everything was positive for C. auris around infected patients: telephones, doors, handles, mattresses, windows, etc.
The CISSS de la Montérégie-Est ensures that additional precautionary measures were put in place as of September 8, with suspected cases and close contacts, who have been isolated.
From September 15, when an outbreak was suspected, measures were added such as wearing masks, gowns and gloves, as well as using chlorine products to disinfect surfaces.
“Since September 8, the relevant care teams have been kept informed of the measures to be applied […] Additional information on Candida auris was communicated to the relevant staff on September 13. »
— Caroline Doucet, spokesperson for the CISSS de la Montérégie-Est
According to our sources, the Anna-Laberge Hospital in Châteauguay is also doing the ;under increased surveillance, as the first positive patient spent a day there this summer.
According to the INSPQ, Quebec had in the past experienced only three isolated cases of Candida auris< /em>, all patients returning from abroad.
The National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ) is mobilized in this file, alongside the Ministry of Health and Social Services. According to the INSPQ, Quebec had experienced only three isolated cases of Candida auris in the past, all patients returning from abroad (Africa and the United States).
This is the first time that Quebecers have been infected without having stayed outside the country.
Only one outbreak had been reported in Canada before, in British Columbia, for a total of 37 cases in the country since 2012, including the latest in Longueuil. These are mostly people returning from medical tourism trips abroad.
Studies have shown that the super mushroom adapts to higher temperatures. This heat tolerance could contribute to its emergence as a fungal disease in humans.
Researchers from the United States and the Netherlands suspect that global warming could contribute to the spread of this infection.
Some scientists even think that the expansion of C. auris could be linked to the massive use of fungicides in agriculture.
A strain of Candida auris
The unwanted fungus is the perfect example of #x27;one of the major threats to humanity listed by the World Health Organization (WHO): resistance to antibiotics, whether from bacteria, viruses or fungi.
The growing problem could kill 10 million people worldwide in 2050, according to a UK government-funded study, more than annual cancer deaths .