According to the officials, there have been multiple reports of the Candida auris fungus being found in health care facilities in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the fungus “presents a serious global threat” because it is “often multi-drug resistant, meaning that it is resistant to multiple antifungal drugs commonly used to treat Candida infections.”
In addition, the fungus can survive on surfaces for weeks and does not respond to many commonly used disinfectants.
"If a patient is positive for more than one organism, ensure you use an Environmental Protection Agency-registered hospital-grade disinfectant that is effective against all organisms the patient is positive for. Check the label,” California health officials said, the Los Angeles Times reported.
According to the CDC, Candida auris was first identified in Japan in 2009 but has turned up in multiple countries since then.
The fungus can be found in the bloodstream, urine, respiratory tract, ear canals and even in the wounds of patients. Additionally, the fungus can enter the bloodstream and spread to cause serious invasive infections and potentially even death, especially in people with other serious medical issues.
“People who get invasive Candida infections are often already sick from other medical conditions, so it can be difficult to know if you have a C. auris infection,” the CDC explains. The agency notes that based on data it has collected, the fungus causes death in more than a third of patients who suffer from an invasive infection, like one that affects the blood, heart or brain.
The fungal outbreak comes as California faces a surging number of COVID-19 infections, with more than 7,000 new cases of the respiratory illness recorded in the state on Monday alone.
Currently, the state has reported nearly 400,000 cases and almost 8,000 deaths as a result of the virus, according to the latest data from the California Department of Public Health.