Candida auris: What to know about the deadly superbug fungus posing a “serious global health threat”

Health officials are warning of “a serious global health threat” from a drug-resistant superbug fungus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the fungus, Candida auris, has already sickened hundreds of people in the United States.

Candida auris, which preys on people with weakened immune systems, was first identified in 2009 and first seen in this country in 2013. Since then, it has caused at least 587 illnesses in the U.S. More than 300 of those cases were reported in New York state. Illinois had 144 confirmed cases, primarily in the Chicago area, and New Jersey had 104. 

“This is definitely an alarming development in the global emerging threat of superbugs,” Dr. Neeta Ogden, an internal medicine specialist, told CBS News.

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“It’s resistant to multiple anti-fungal drugs that we have, and it’s also resistant to all the things that we use to eradicate bacteria and fungal strains in the hospital.” 

CBS New York reports an elderly man died from the fungus last year at Mount Sinai Hospital following abdominal surgery. The fungus has caused illnesses globally with reports in more than 20 countries.

What kind of infections does Candida auris cause?

Candida auris can cause different types of infections, including bloodstream infection, wound infection, and ear infection.

The fungus has also been detected in respiratory and urine samples, but the CDC says it’s unclear if it causes lung or bladder infections.

Who is at risk of illness from Candida auris?

Candida auris infections have been reported in health care settings throughout the world, including hospitals and long-term care facilities like nursing homes. People who recently had surgery, live in nursing homes, or who have breathing tubes, feeding tubes or central venous catheters appear to be at highest risk.

“This strain is preying on people with weakened immune systems,” Ogden said. “So who is that? Long-term health care facility residents who have catheters, in-dwelling catheters or IV lines. People in hospitals, IUCs. Newborns. And also people who take immunosuppressant drugs for medical illnesses, or have diabetes. So those are the people who really are at risk.” 

The germ has been found in patients of all ages, from preterm infants to older adults.

How is Candida auris spread?

Candida strains “live in our gut microbiome,” Ogden explained. The drug-resistant strain Candida auris has taken hold in some health care settings, spreading person to person or through contact with contaminated surfaces or equipment. Healthy people with strong immune systems may carry the germ without actually getting sick from it.

Ogden said health officials are worried about what could come next. 

“The greater concern is that if we don’t curb this rise of superbugs, where is this headed? It’s headed towards normal, healthy people with no health problems becoming vulnerable to these types of fungal strains, and not having anything in our defenses of antimicrobials and antifungals to fight them,” she said.

How are Candida auris infections diagnosed?

According to the CDC, symptoms of Candida auris may be difficult to detect because patients are often already sick. Only a lab test can identify the superbug.

Infections are usually diagnosed by culture of blood or other body fluids.

Are Candida auris infections treatable?

While most Candida auris infections are treatable with antifungal medications, health officials say they’re concerned that some have proven to be resistant to all three main classes of antifungal medications. 

“In this situation, multiple antifungal medications at high doses may be needed to treat the infection,” the CDC said.

“It’s an enormous problem,” Matthew Fisher, a professor of fungal epidemiology at Imperial College London, told The New York Times. “We depend on being able to treat those patients with antifungals.” Fisher co-authored a recent scientific review documenting the rise of drug-resistant fungi.

How often do the infections turn deadly?

Since Candida auris infections generally occur in people who are already sick with serious medical conditions, it can be difficult to determine cause of death.

“Based on information from a limited number of patients, 30–60% of people with C. auris infections have died,” the CDC says. “However, many of these people had other serious illnesses that also increased their risk of death.”

Article Source:
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/candida-auris-the-deadly-superbug-fungus-posing-a-serious-global-health-threat/

Overuse of Sprinkler System May Cause Mold Growth

Some good ways to irrigate your lawn are having a sprinkler connected to a water hose or system of multiple water pipelines which can be automatically controlled. This latter is the traditional way and seems to be a more convenient and no hassle system.  More homeowners rely on this water irrigation system thinking it works well with the trees, shrubs, and ornamentals in the garden, lawn, or yard. However, the overuse of sprinklers make it susceptible to different problems such as insects, weeds, moisture, fungi, and mold.

Effects of mold in your home due to overuse of water sprinklers:

  1. Overuse water sprinkler creates a spawning pool

No matter how small the pool of water left undistributed in your lawn is, count only a few days and this can produce and increase mold. This can also result in bigger problems for it can be a breeding ground of insects that may bring illness and diseases.

  • Surfaces in the yard may become wet and slippery

Mold and other organisms can thrive in damp conditions which lets them grow and become slippery.  The risk of the accident is significant.

  • Dead plants

Can’t find the reason why your plants are getting sick and dying?  Check your yard.  If its surface is covered by mold it can block the nourishment that your plants are supposed to receive.

  • Unattractive lawn surface for your family and pets

Imagine having your yard soaked from water and mold visibly present. It looks very unattractive and can also result in a danger for your family and pets, as it can remain on carpets and floors once these dirt and molds are carried in by paws and shoes.

  • Mold growth may come inside your home

If your outside walls continue getting wet from a water sprinkler system, the inside walls and materials may get wet too. This can cause unpleasant smells and water stains inside your home. When this is not treated and properly dried, mold and other bacteria can easily grow.

How to avoid getting mold:

  • Properly maintain your water sprinkler system
  • Wet materials need to be dried quickly
  • Keep mold off your plants
  • Make sure sprinklers are not directly on your home
  • Prevent moisture with proper ventilation
  • Detox your home by using humidifiers

Water sprinkler systems provide us a wonderful convenience with our busy daily lives. They let us have the power to irrigate our lawn with just a spin of the faucet or turn of a switch. However, overuse of sprinklers can result in bigger problems if not managed properly, mold problems can quickly occur and may cause serious respiratory health issues for your family. If you have a mold problem brewing around your home, contact FunGuy Inspections.

www.funguyinspections.com    818-674-7541 or 800-674-7541

Spring Allergies 2019: A Timeline and Tips to Handle Allergies This Season

Spring officially started! We can say goodbye to winter, but when do we have to say hello to allergy season? It seems like allergy season lasts all year, and technically it does. Watery eyes, stuffy nose, rashes and other symptoms can show up thanks to triggers all year.

So when does spring allergy season actually start? And more importantly for me, when can I expect it to end? We look into and provide tips to help you get through spring allergies below.

When Do Spring Allergies Start?

Spring allergies occur for most people because of pollen. There are different types of pollen to consider (like tree pollen, grass pollen, ragweed pollen). Tree pollen hits in late March and April, and grass pollen isn’t far behind it. Other types of pollen hit later in spring into summer.

Experts say that warmer-than-average winter temperatures and climate change mean allergy season starts earlier and ends later. These factors lead to early tree pollination and led to higher pollen counts than normal for this time of year. As a result, we’re experiencing an early start to allergy season. And if you suffer from tree pollen allergies, you’re likely among the first to feel the effects.

Scientists have a hunch that an early allergy season could mean we’re in for a longer-than-average season. But because rainfall amounts have a bearing on how long trees and flowers pollinate; it’s too early to predict for sure. Whatever the outcome, if you are prone to seasonal allergies, now is a great time to get prepared.

Tips for Dealing with Spring Allergies

Use these simple tips to avoid symptom-triggering pollen and breathe easier this spring:

Know Your Pollen Count

Keep an eye on the daily pollen count for your city. You can use our handy pollen alert tracker in our Learning Center to track your city’s daily reports. On days the count is high (120 or above), stay indoors if possible to keep pollen exposure to a minimum.

Close Your Windows

Although it’s tempting to open your windows and let fresh spring air indoors, it may not be the best thing for your symptoms. Keep windows and doors closed to avoid letting pollen spores circulate and settle inside your home.

Shower After Spending Time Outside 

Take a shower after spending time outdoors to wash pollen out of your hair and keep it from falling onto your pillow.

Consider Using An Air Purifier 

Air purifiers, especially those that have HEPA filters, filter even the tiniest pollen spores out of your air along with other symptom triggers like dust, mold, and pet dander. With regular use, you can reduce and even eliminate your symptoms. Browse our air purifiers for allergies to see our top recommended models.

When to Expect Spring Allergies to End

So when do spring allergies go away? Unfortunately, the same qualities that make allergy season start earlier also makes them stay longer. April tends to be the worst month for most spring allergy-sufferers, but spring allergies typically last until early summer. It’s pretty easy to see why: That’s when most of the flowers and trees are blooming.

Tree pollen is the most common culprit for spring allergies. Grass and weeds also cause issues later in the spring allergy season. Most people see their allergy symptoms start to disappear by early June, but it can change depending on where you live in the country. The best idea is to be prepared and use our tips to fight them any time of year.

Article Source:
https://www.sylvane.com/blog/battle-early-spring-allergies/#more-2344

Common Threats of Rain Intrusion and Proven Ways on How to Prevent It

Here are the leading causes of rain intrusion:

One of the many problems that your home may encounter is rain intrusion. Generally, rain intrusion is one of the significant factors causing deterioration of stucco, wood, roofing and other materials.  Compromised building materials can cause leaks with the interior and exterior of the home or building that may lead to total structural damage and even mold.

•    Poor construction and low-quality materials of the structure.

•    Invasion of water caused by natural calamities such as rains, winds, and floods.

•    Deferred maintenance in your home or buildings.

•    Lack of repairs to the damaged areas.

Neglecting a small problem can worsen the situation in the long run. If treated this way, it will cost you a lot of budget for the repairs and renovations. Just the thought of this situation can be a headache.

Here are the possible effects of rain intrusion:

•    Moisture intrusion, moisture stains, and eventually offensive odors that smell like mold.

•    Inviting termites and other insects into your home.  They love moist environments caused by water   damage.

  • The threat of bacteria is also high. Category 2 water will eventually lead to category 3 water that contains contaminated bacteria.

•    Continued deterioration of the building envelope, including the roof, water proofing black paper, and seals surrounding your doors and windows.

The possibility of seeing your home or buildings deteriorate can be prevented. Awareness and proper action are key. Keep in mind that immediate maintenance, and annual inspections are a helpful way to prevent moisture damage and eventually mold.

Here are helpful ways of preventing common threats:

•    Consult professionals in finding the possible location of the leaks within your area. This is highly recommended to do after rain, flood or moisture intrusion.

•    Always check for the potential damages after any storm or flood. A monthly check is also suggested for the immediate location of damages.

•    Check every corner of your home or building – the walls, roofs, gutters, windows, and sinks. With this, it will be easy to take precautionary actions.

Identifying the problems immediately will save you a lot of money. If you are unsure about the inspection process, consider hiring a water damage professional.  Fun Guy Inspections uses state of the art moisture meters and infrared cameras to detect moisture.  In addition, you will receive a detailed report of findings with recommendations.  If water damage and moisture intrusion have been a problem in your home or office, let Fun Guy Inspections help you solve these problems before mold begins to grow.

Inspect for water damage problems in Los Angeles

FunGuy Inspections – 818-674-7541 www.funguyinspections.com

Rain and Water Damage – Will I get Mold?

 

With heavy rainfall comes a tremendous amount of moisture.  Leaks and condensation increase, temperatures and warm drying daylight decrease.

These are optimal conditions for mold growth, both interior and exterior. As exterior mold spores explode in number some of them are bound to settle in our indoor environments. Here’s an overview from the EPA on Mold growth in the home.

So what can you do to reduce to likelihood mold will take hold?

I have some tips to minimize the conditions conducive to mold growth and maximize you and your family’s health.

Mold needs 3 conditions for optimal growth:

  • The Right temperature. Some mold species can grow at low (below 50 degrees F) and other species at high (above 90 degrees F), but most common mold species that grow indoors grow ideally at 55-85 degrees F. Unfortunately this is the optimal temperature for human comfort. So it is unlikely you can keep your home at a temperature that is inhospitable for mold growth. So we will not concentrate on that.
  • An organic food source. Different species of mold like to eat different things, but they all need something organic to munch on. Many mold species love cellulose, i.e. wood and paper. These are the natural composters and when it rains these species start to eat up all the fallen branches and leaves in the forest, as well as our yards emitting millions of spores that make their way into our homes. Inside our homes molds like to eat wood. This is what “dry rot” is, fungi usually consisting of 2 species, Ascospores and Basidiospores. Other species like to eat paper, such as cardboard boxes, books, and paper backed wallboard, such as sheetrock.  Pennicillium/Aspergillus and Stachybotrys (colloquially known as toxic black mold) are often found on wet or moist paper. Cladosporium, the species most often found growing on windowsills and in bathrooms, can eat a variety of Biofilms (household dust consisting of epithelial cells (dead skin cells) insect parts, pet dander, natural fibers such as cotton and linen, etc.).   Some mold food sources we cannot easily remove from our home such as framing lumber and wallboard, but others we can, such as cardboard boxes.
  • This is the big one and the one I will be giving tips on below. Mold needs moisture. There is a common saying in our business: “Mold is the symptom, moisture is the problem”. Mold growth either needs liquid water or high humidity. Liquid water can come from condensation on windowsills and in bathrooms, or from leaks, either internal or external. Without liquid water mold will not become active unless the humidity is high, usually 60-80% RH depending on the species. When the humidity is high enough, mold can become active and grow by absorbing moisture directly from the air.

Here are some tips to reduce both food sources and moisture in your home and thus reduce the likelihood and amount of mold that may grow inside your home:

Let’s start outside. When it rains water can easily enter what we call the “Building Envelope”. It is very important to make sure your site drainage system is clear from debris and working properly to move rain water away from your home, foundation, and crawlspace.

  • Clean the roof of any leave or other debris.
  • Clear gutters
  • Make sure downspouts are in good repair, not clogged, and properly attached any extensions or the site drainage system.
  • Make sure all property drains are clear of debris and flowing freely.

Check the “Building Envelope” for possible sites of water intrusion, i.e. leaks.

  • Window and doorframes are spots where water can intrude. Check all door and window frame caulking for cracks and gaps and repair where necessary.
  • Inspect the sealant around roof penetrations. Repair where necessary.
  • Check building siding for cracks, peeling paint, holes, etc. Anywhere water may be able to get in.

After a heavy rain walk around the entire house and look for standing water, and clogged drains. Look inside the crawlspace and make sure there is no hidden flooding. Carefully check the inside of the house, take a close look at the ceilings, around windows and doors, and walls for small leaks. Because all big leaks start out as small leaks! Check under sinks and around tubs and toilets to make sure there are no plumbing leaks adding moisture to the interior of your home.

Assuming there are no leaks and your drainage system is working well, what other sources of moisture can address?

Inside a home the occupants can produce a tremendous amount of moisture. On average each human occupant expires (breathes) and perspires (sweats) about 2 POUNDS of water into the air a day. Pets can also add to this moisture source. During the winter we often close out windows, as it is cold out, and most residential heating systems have no way of bringing in fresh air or ventilating out moist, stale interior air. Thus interior humidity can often increase to levels above 60%, which is ideal for mold growth.

So what can we do about Mold Growth?

  • Monitor interior humidity. Small, portable humidity monitors are available for around $10-15 and can be placed around the home. If RH (relative humidity) is consistently above 65%, action should be taken. Ideally, interior RH should be between 45-55% RH. Below 40% RH mucous membranes start to dry out and can cause occupant discomfort.
  • Open windows when practicable to help flush out moisture and other interior contaminants. Even 1 hour a day can make a big difference, although 3-4 hours is recommended.
  • Run ventilation fans in bathrooms and kitchens to help exhaust excess humidity from cooking and bathing. Run fans in bathrooms for at least 20 minutes after bathing. Timer switches can be installed on most bathroom exhaust fans and are highly recommended.
  • Wipe excess condensation from windowsills. Inspect windowsills often. Do not keep curtains closed as this can trap moist, cool air and promote excessive condensation.

The above tips can help reduce moisture sources, what can do we do about reducing mold food sources?

  • Do not keep books, papers, or cardboard boxes in moist areas such as attics, garages, basements or crawlspaces. Attic and crawlspaces should not be used as storage areas, but if you must store items in a garage or basement, we recommend sealed plastic bins.
  • Keep areas mold likes to grow clean and dry. This means cleaning dust (biofilms) from windowsills, baseboards, and doorframes. Vacuum carpet regularly with a HEPA vacuum. The recommendation is to vacuum and sweep one day per week PER OCCUPANT, including pets!
  • Check behind drapes and furniture for hidden condensation and biofilms. Allow airflow to reach these areas by opening drapes often and moving furniture a few inches from walls, especially exterior walls that can become colder and promote condensation.

Also, trust your nose, that musty smell is a sure indication of active mold growth. That musty smell is caused by microbial VOC’s, airborne chemicals that are a metabolic by-product of mold digestion.

If you think you have a hidden source of mold, call a professional Certified Microbial Investigator for a full mold inspection.  Excessive interior mold can cause structural damage to your home and its contents, as well as allergic and respiratory reactions in some occupants. Take heed and be diligent, and you can survive this hopefully wet winter relatively mold-free.