Fatal, drug-resistant fungus targets hospital-bound New Yorkers
Robie de Guzman • April 10, 2019 • 3133
Doctors at the Nassau University Medical Center warned New Yorkers to take caution against a drug-resistant, sometimes fatal superbug fungus that has infected hundreds of people in the tri-state area and nationwide.
The recent outbreak of the fungus candida auris, which was discovered in 2009, has disproportionately affected New York and New Jersey, with 309 of the nation’s 617 cases in New York state alone.
Typically spread within healthcare facilities, the fungus kills 20 to 50 percent of patients.
“Anybody who has concerns about fevers, chills, sweats, wound infections, anything like that, should seek care as soon as possible. They should certainly let their healthcare provider know about their symptoms. They should let their healthcare provider know about prior use of antibiotics. They should let their healthcare provider know about travel,” Dr. Janice Verley, an Infectious Disease Specialist at Nassau University Medical Center said.
People in hospitals and nursing homes, particularly those with already suppressed immune systems, are at the greatest risk of becoming infected.
Infection can spread to the blood, heart or brain in severe cases.
The fungus is difficult to identify, as doctors frequently mistake it for other candida strains, and even harder to treat because it is resistant to common antifungal medications.
“This particular species is resistant to the Azole class, which is the class that we would use first-line. So it is possible, if you don’t know what it is, you may be treating it with an ineffective drug,” Verley explained.
According to the Center for Disease Control, several U.S. cases of the superbug may be linked to hospital stays in India, Kenya, Kuwait, Pakistan, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.
“The infections occur on two levels, one its introduction of the infections from other areas, and clearly the New York-New Jersey area has a high amount of immigrant populations coming from all over the world. And then, once it’s introduced then they’re spread within that community, within that organization,” Verley said.
“You know we know that we have seen it going from hospitals to long-term care facilities, so people who get admitted, transferred to a nursing home, transferred back to a hospital, these cases, if, you know, would be at an increased risk,” she added. (REUTERS)
Broadway theaters, among New York’s biggest tourist attractions, were shut down for a month on Thursday (March 12) in a bid to limit the spread of the coronavirus in the city.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a ban on all gatherings of more than 500 people, including theatres, starting on Thursday evening. Most Broadway theatres have around 1,000 seats.
The Broadway League said in a statement that shows would be suspended until April 13. They include crowd-pleasers like “Hamilton,” “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
The decision was part of a range of extraordinary measures in the nation’s biggest city. Some 328 people in New York are confirmed to have the disease, Cuomo said.
The spreading virus has already led to cancellation or postponement of dozens of U.S. entertainment industry events, including the Coachella and South by Southwest festivals, CinemaCon, the E3 videogames convention and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Broadway was spooked on Wednesday (March 11) when an usher who had worked at two New York theatres tested positive for coronavirus. Owners of the two venues said they had ordered deep cleanings and their shows went ahead on Wednesday.
Television talk shows “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” said they would tape their broadcasts in New York venues without audiences going forward.
Several Broadway plays and musicals had previously put a halt to cast members greeting fans and signing programs at stage doors.
Some 14.8 million tickets were sold for Broadway shows in the 2018-2019 season that ended in May, bringing $1.8 billion in box office receipts, according to the Broadway League. Some 63% of those going to shows were tourists, from outside the United States or outside New York.
“Our top priority has been and will continue to be the health and well-being of Broadway theatergoers and the thousands of people who work in the theatre industry every day, including actors, musicians, stagehands, ushers, and many other dedicated professionals,” Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, said in a statement on Friday. (Reuters)
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The number of people ill with the new coronavirus has risen to six in New York state, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday (March 4).
New York’s Yeshiva University said one of its students had tested positive for COVID-19, and it was canceling all classes on Wednesday at one of its four New York City campuses as a “precautionary step” while it worked with authorities on how to best prepare and keep its students safe.
On Tuesday (March 3), officials said a man in his 50s who lives in a New York City suburb and works at a Manhattan law firm tested positive for the virus, the second identified case in the state. Health authorities said one of his children was a student at Yeshiva University.
The man has severe pneumonia and is hospitalized, officials said. The patient had not traveled to countries hardest hit in the coronavirus outbreak, which began in China in December and is now present in nearly 80 countries and territories, killing more than 3,000 people.
Of the six cases of people with coronavirus in New York, only one is hospitalized, Cuomo said at a news conference.
The four new cases include three family members of the hospitalized man, New York Mayor Bill De Blasio said in a statement. The fourth was a neighbor, according to media reports.
“There are going to be many, many people who test positive. By definition, the more you test, the more people you will find who test positive,” Cuomo said.
New York wants to get the state’s capacity for testing for the virus to up to 1,000 a day, he said.
“The people who we are most concerned about, who are most vulnerable are senior citizens, people with immune comprised situations. What we’re worried about: nursing home setting, senior care setting. That’s what we’ve seen in other places and that’s where the situation is most problematic.”
At least one school in the Bronx neighborhood of New York City closed on Tuesday. The SAR Academy and SAR High School remained closed on Wednesday, but online classes were taking place, according to a man with a child at the school.
A synagogue in New Rochelle, New York, where the family of the hospitalized man lives said on Tuesday it was halting “all services immediately and for the foreseeable future.”
The latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) listed 108 confirmed and presumed cases in the United States. That tally consists of 60 reported by public health authorities in 12 states plus 48 among people repatriated from abroad, most of them from an outbreak aboard the Diamond Princess cruise liner in Japan.
Nine people have died in the Seattle area, health officials said. Washington state in the Pacific Northwest has the largest concentration of coronavirus cases detected to date in the United States with 27 people infected as of Tuesday. (REUTERS CONNECT)
A 5-foot-tall Promobot descended on New York’s Times Square on Monday (February 10) to inform the public about the symptoms of coronavirus and how to prevent it from spreading.
Curious passersby stopped, and complete a short questionnaire on an iPad attached to the robot’s chest, and even had a conversation with the machine.
“This thing is very clever. It’s really, really clever,” said Tara Healy, who was visiting New York from London.
Others thought the bot was part of the New York experience.
“A bit mental,” said Thomas McAlinden from Scotland. “But sums up New York for me.”
Promobot was created by a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, – based startup run by a group of Russians.
The company’s chief business development officer Oleg Kivorkutsev told Reuters the company makes autonomous service robots for businesses.
Kivorkutsev and his colleagues said they organized several events around New York City, with Promobot giving away face masks and talking to people, to promote its products.
“We did a special software to detect coronavirus symptoms,” Kivorkutsev told Reuters. “We understand how this problem is important, how people are nervous, people are afraid of this. But if they understand few, simple things, for example, what symptoms coronavirus has, what they should do to prevent (it), everything will be fine and everyone will be happy.”
So far, five people in New York City have been tested for the virus – with four cleared and one pending.
(Production: Aleksandra Michalska & Nelson Villarreal)
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