New York had record-high cases 'diabolical' fungal infection last year
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It might not be “The Last of Us” — but these new stats are pretty terrifying.

New York had close to the most cases in the nation of a “diabolical” drug-resistant and deadly fungus that has already infected people in at least 28 states.

There were 379 confirmed cases of the dangerous, drug-resistant fungi named, Candida auris last year, according to the state health department, eclipsing the previous statewide record for infections of 291 in 2021.

Last year’s totals put it alongside Nevada, California and Florida as the states with the most infections from the fungus with 384, 359 and 349, respectively.

There have already been at least 72 new cases this year statewide, bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,454 with the first reports of the infection in the state beginning in 2013.

“I do not think it’s going to peter out,” warned Dr. Rodney Rohde, a microbiologist and professor of clinical laboratory science at Texas State University.

“It’s a global problem.”

The species of fungus was first identified in Japan in 2009 — and it has since proven to be most deadly in close-quartered settings such as hospitals or nursing homes.

Candida Auri
Candida auris cases have been steadily rising across New York since the first case was reported in 2013, according to state data.
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Since then, the number of confirmed Candida auris infections has surged in part because of its ability to survive on surfaces for weeks and resistance to some anti-fungal drugs.

“They just persist,” Rohde said.

“They are diabolical in how they hang on to surfaces and they are always just a little bit ahead of us.”

Rohde said that the fungus secrets a sticky substance, called a biofilm prevents anti-fungal drugs from working.

When that surface is human tissue, the “gunky” coating can prevent drugs from working properly.

“Think of this biofilm like a thick, sticky matrix that the drugs can’t get down to the actual surface of the skin, or the body, or internally,” Rohde said.

“It can kill things on the top, but its so thick and gunky it basically repels the drugs.”

“It’s resistant to multiple anti-fungal drugs,” Rohde said.

“Combine that with a biofilm.

“Combine it with its ability to spread easily on surfaces and its knack for living on surfaces.

“It’s just kind of the perfect storm.”

Between 30% to 60% of people people who have contracted Candida auris have died, according to the CDC, although the populations most at risk are those who have a compromised immune system and those who have frequent, or long-term, hospital stays, according to health officials.

Rohde said warning signs could be a fever or severe urinary tract infection.

It can then cause sepsis and organ failure if the fungus gets into the blood.

“It can be delivered to really critical organs, including your kidney and your heart,” Rohde said.

“It can even get into your brain and cause encephalitis,”

Immune-compromised patients are particularly vulnerable, he added.

“Individuals in health care, research, and different infectious disease specialties need to be more purposeful in explaining some of these types of microbes…sometimes a patient is so sick that they may not be advocating for themselves,” Rohde said.

Data from the CDC differs from New York State when it comes to Candida auris infections with the state listing 379 cases and the federal agency reporting 329 cases.

The disease has drawn comparisons on social media to the video game-inspired HBO sci-fi series “The Last of US,” which portrays a post-apocalyptic world devastated by a fungus that kills its hosts, then turns them to bloodthirsty monsters, which experts note is not a trait of Candid auris.

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