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/

Need to clean up ash from the Woolsey fire? Follow these guidelines for safety

Ash from the Woolsey and Hill fires can have a far reach, raining down on communities many miles away.

Areas of California have not only been completely devastated by the recent wildfires in Northern California and the Malibu area, but many far away from the flames have been impacted in other ways with power outages or debris from the fires.

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department sent out tips via social media on Wednesday on how to safely discard of ash and food that may have been impacted.

Wash off the ash

Ash may look like fun snowflakes to children, but make sure they don’t play in it – especially when it’s wet or damp.  And make sure any toys they play with are washed.

Don’t forget to also wash your pets that may have gotten ash on their fur.

Always wear gloves during clean up, along with long-sleeved shirts and long pants to avoid skin contact. Wash ash off as soon as possible if it gets on your skin.

If you eat vegetable or fruits from the garden, make sure you wash them before eating.

Don’t spread it around

Don’t use leaf blowers — they will push ash into the air and spread it out.

“Instead, gently sweep indoor and outdoor surfaces, followed by wet mopping,” the post reads. “A solution of bleach and water may be used to disinfect an area.”

Your regular home vacuum won’t cut it, and even shop vacuums can’t filter out small particles. Instead, they blow small particles into the air where they can be breathed in. However, HEPA-filter vacuums can filter out small particles.

Use a disposable mask, an easy item to find at home or hardware stores, when cleaning up. Make sure it has a rating of N-95 or better.

Avoid washing ash into the storm drains whenever possible. Ash and soot can become very slippery when combined with water.

“Walk carefully, wear boots with good soles, and use as little water as possible when cleaning an area of ash,” the post reads.

Throw it out

If ash has gotten onto plastic bottles, toss them.

“It is not enough to rinse off the bottles as these particles contaminate the caps, making them very difficult to decontaminate,” the advisory reads

Food that has not been stored in waterproof or airtight containers and has been covered with ash should be discarded. This includes products that have been stored in cardboard or other soft packaging, according to the sheriff’s department.

Food stored in sealed, previously unopened glass or metal cans or jars, such as baby food, should be safe for use, but the containers should be cleaned before they are opened and contents transferred to another container before being eaten.

If a power outage has impacted your area for a short time, your food should be safe. But if your power has been out for several hours, it’s best to throw away perishable foods such as meat, dairy products and eggs.

Items that have thawed in the freezer should be thrown away — do not re-freeze thawed food.

“Remember, if in doubt, throw it out.”

Original Article Source:https://www.dailynews.com/2018/11/14/need-to-clean-up-ash-from-the-woolsey-fire-follow-these-guidelines-for-safety/

Asbestos exposure at West Los Angeles apartment complex leaves 15 people displaced

 

There’s a Second Flu Wave Coming — and It’s Especially Bad News for Parents with Little Kids!

Here’s what you need to know:

second wave flu

It seems as if this year’s long, widespread flu season should be coming to an end, but parents—especially those with younger children—should stay diligent when it comes to spotting influenza symptoms. There could be a second wave of the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In the CDC’s most recent weekly report, the organization says that though the overall percentage of influenza activity is decreasing, the proportion of influenza B viruses is increasing, and there were more reports of the influenza B than influenza A during week 11 of this year. For the majority of the flu season, which began in October 2017, most cases reported were influenza A, but in the past week, 59 percent of all confirmed cases were influenza B.

What does all that mean? Parents should be aware that even if their kids were diagnosed with influenza A, they could still get sick with the influenza B virus. “We know that illness associated with influenza B can be just as severe as illness associated with influenza A,” CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund told CNN. “We also know that influenza B tends to be more severe for younger children.”

The possibility of another round of the flu isn’t good news, but it’s also not that surprising. “We often see a wave of influenza B during seasons when influenza A H3N2 was the predominant virus earlier in the season,” Nordlund told the network. “Unfortunately, we don’t know what the influenza B wave will look like.”

The CDC reports that there have been 133 pediatric deaths as a result of this year’s flu season, with five deaths reported in the past week alone. Young children—as well as older adults and pregnant women—are at a higher risk for contracting the flu. According to the CDC’s website, annual vaccinations are the best way to prevent the flu and the “potentially severe complications” the virus causes in children.

Prevent water damage and mold this winter

 

Prevent water damage and mold growth

 

Leaves, sticks, and debris can become a problem for your rain gutters.  Rain gutters typically allow the removal of water away from your home or building.  In this instance, the blockage within the rain gutter allowed water to Prevent water damage by inspecting the rain gutters in your homeoverflow and deposit near the front door of the unit.  If left untended, the backup within the gutter would allow the water to impact the structure and possibly cause water damage inside the home.  Water damage and mold growth inside your home can be prevented by regular maintenance of the rain gutters during this El Nino rainy season.

 

 

 

Do your best to observe the signs of a failing rain gutter and prevent water damage:

  • Loose or detached down spouts
  • Bent or broken sections of the main gutter
  • Excessive debris (including leaves and dirt)
  • Improper slope and grading of the gutters
  • Overflowing water

Prevent water damage by inspecting the rain gutters in your home and cleaning out leaves and debris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Porter Ranch Natural Gas Leak

Porter Ranch Natural Gas Leak

Since the well began leaking Oct. 23, thousands of people in the Porter Ranch area say they have suffered headaches, nosebleeds, nausea and other symptoms from the escaping gas. The smell comes from an additive called mercaptan that is used to warn people of leaking natural gas, which is ordinarily odorless.

Southern California Gas Co. is paying to relocate those who say they are being sickened.

 

On Oct. 23, gas company employees noticed a leak out of the ground near a well called SS-25. It was late afternoon, so they decided to come back in the morning to fix it.

The next day, however, their efforts were unsuccessful. Gas was now billowing downhill into Porter Ranch, an upscale community on the northern edge of the San Fernando Valley. Customers were beginning to complain about the smell.

Gas leaks are not uncommon, and it took a couple weeks for this one to become news. When Anderle heard about it, in early November, she pulled up the well record on a state website. The file dates back to when the well was drilled in 1953. As she looked it over, she zeroed in on a piece of equipment 8,451 feet underground called a sub-surface safety valve.

If it were working properly, the gas company would be able to shut down the well. The fact that SoCalGas hadn’t meant, to her, that it must be broken. The records indicated that it had not been inspected since 1976.

 

SS-25 was cemented only from the bottom up to a depth of 6,600 feet. The rest — more than a mile of steel pipe — was left exposed to the rock formation. At the top, the 7-inch casing is surrounded by an 11¾-inch surface casing, which is cemented to the rock. But a new well also would have a layer of cement between those casings to provide greater strength and protection from corrosion.

Gas is now leaking through a hole in the 7-inch casing at 470 feet down to the bottom of the outer casing at 990 feet, and out through the rock to the surface.

The corporate culture of SoCalGas is nothing if not deliberate. And so, in 2014, the company proposed a methodical effort to check each well for corrosion. It would take about seven years and cost tens of millions of dollars. The plan was part of a request to the Public Utilities Commission to increase customers’ monthly gas bills by 5.5 percent. The alternative was to fix leaks only as they occurred, which one executive warned could be dangerous and lead to “major situational or media incidents.”

The SoCalGas plan went well beyond the requirements imposed by the state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermic Resources, or DOGGR. Steve Bohlen, the outgoing head of DOGGR, has said several times that it does not appear that Southern California Gas violated any regulations.

 

Gas has now been spewing out of the ground at Aliso Canyon for two months. The gas company expects it to continue for up to another three months. Methane is a potent contributor to climate change. By one estimate, the leak is producing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the tailpipes of 2.3 million cars.

The Aliso Canyon leak has increased the state’s methane emissions by 21 percent. As of now, 2.3 percent of the state’s entire carbon footprint is coming from one hole in the ground above Porter Ranch.

“This is an environmental disaster,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti, who stopped by Porter Ranch Community School in November, just before flying to Paris for the United Nations climate change conference. “It’s devastating. It makes you question the long-term sustainability of a carbon-based power system.”

The local impact also has been severe. About 30,000 people live in Porter Ranch, a bedroom community of gated developments with 4,000-square-foot homes that sell for $1 million or more. The neighborhood offers good schools, clean air and a sense of security. All of that has been disrupted. Many residents have experienced headaches, nosebleeds, nausea or other symptoms. Some 2,000 families have been moved to hotels or short-term rentals to escape the gas.

 

Mercaptan

is also known as methanethiol and is a harmless but pungent-smelling gas which has been described as having the stench of rotting cabbages or smelly socks.

It is often added to natural gas, which is colourless and odourless, to make it easier to detect.

The gas is an organic substance, made of carbon, hydrogen and sulphur, and is found naturally in living organisms, including the human body where it is a waste product of normal metabolism. It is one of the chemicals responsible for the foul smell of bad breath and flatulence.

People who have eaten asparagus can experience the distinctive smell of mercaptan in their urine within 30 minutes of consuming the vegetable, which contains substances that are quickly broken down to methanethiol. However, not everyone is able to smell mercaptan in their urine as a genetic mutation in some people means they are immune to the odour.

The great advantage of mercaptan for industrial purposes is that it can be detected by most people in extremely small quantities, less than one part per million. This makes it an ideal additive to odourless gases, and, like natural gas, it is flammable.

 

 

What benzene is

  • Benzene is a chemical that is a colorless or light yellow liquid at room temperature. It has a sweet odor and is highly flammable.
  • Benzene evaporates into the air very quickly. Its vapor is heavier than air and may sink into low-lying areas.
  • Benzene dissolves only slightly in water and will float on top of water.

Where benzene is found and how it is used

  • Benzene is formed from both natural processes and human activities.
  • Natural sources of benzene include volcanoes and forest fires. Benzene is also a natural part of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke.
  • Benzene is widely used in the United States. It ranks in the top 20 chemicals for production volume.
  • Some industries use benzene to make other chemicals that are used to make plastics, resins, and nylon and synthetic fibers. Benzene is also used to make some types of lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides.

How you could be exposed to benzene

  • Outdoor air contains low levels of benzene from tobacco smoke, gas stations, motor vehicle exhaust, and industrial emissions.
  • Indoor air generally contains levels of benzene higher than those in outdoor air. The benzene in indoor air comes from products that contain benzene such as glues, paints, furniture wax, and detergents.
  • The air around hazardous waste sites or gas stations can contain higher levels of benzene than in other areas.
  • Benzene leaks from underground storage tanks or from hazardous waste sites containing benzene can contaminate well water.
  • People working in industries that make or use benzene may be exposed to the highest levels of it.
  • A major source of benzene exposure is tobacco smoke.