A “superbug” known as Candida auris (C. auris) has caused 774 cases in Nevada hospitals and other care facilities, according to the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

A total of 63 Nevada deaths have been linked to C. auris, according to DHHS. The deaths were not necessarily caused by the fungus, KTLA sister station KLAS added.

C. auris is a fungus that can cause severe illness in hospitalized patients. If it’s introduced into the bloodstream, the fungus can spread throughout the body and cause serious invasive infections. It was listed in 2019 as one of five “urgent” superbugs monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This 2016 photo made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a strain of Candida auris cultured in a petri dish at a CDC laboratory. (Shawn Lockhart/CDC via AP)
This 2016 photo made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a strain of Candida auris cultured in a petri dish at a CDC laboratory. (Shawn Lockhart/CDC via AP)

They are called superbugs because it’s hard to kill them with existing drugs.

“C. auris has caused bloodstream infections, wound infections, and ear infections. It also has been isolated from respiratory and urine specimens, but it is unclear if it causes infections in the lung or bladder,” according to the CDC.

As of Nov. 18, the fungus had been detected in cases at 33 facilities statewide. A list published by the Division of Public and Behavioral Health on Aug. 1 listed 26 hospitals and care facilities in Southern Nevada:

  • Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center
  • College Park Health and Rehab
  • Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center
  • Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Desert Canyon
  • Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Henderson
  • Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital Of Las Vegas
  • Henderson Hospital
  • Horizon Specialty Hospital – Las Vegas
  • Horizon Specialty Hospital of Henderson
  • Kindred Flamingo SNF
  • Kindred Hospital – Flamingo LTAC
  • Kindred Hospital – Sahara
  • Mountainview Hospital
  • Pam Specialty Hospital of Las Vegas LLC
  • Royal Springs Healthcare and Rehab
  • Saint Rose Dominican Hospitals – Siena Campus
  • Sandstone Spring Valley
  • Silver Hills Health Care Center
  • Silver Ridge Health Care Center
  • Spring Valley Hospital Medical Center
  • St. Joseph Transitional Rehab
  • Summerlin Hospital Medical Center
  • Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center
  • University Medical Center of Southern Nevada
  • Valley Hospital Medical Center
  • Southern Hills Hospital and Medical Center

Diagnosing the fungus can be difficult because it often affects people who are already hospitalized for some other problem.

The state began investigating C. auris outbreaks in acute care hospitals, long-term acute care hospitals, and skilled nursing facilities in April 2022. See more detailed information for patients and families here.

A graphic provided by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services shows case counts by month in Southern Nevada.

In classifying cases, there is a distinction between infections — which are called clinical cases — and “colonization.” In those cases, the fungus is present in the body, but has not caused an infection. But because of the danger of spreading the fungus to others, extra care is needed with patients who have C. auris. Hand-washing is an important part of precautions.

Of the 63 Nevada deaths linked to C. auris, 45 were clinical cases, 17 were colonization cases and one is unknown. Of the 774 cases, there were 292 clinical cases, 362 colonization cases and 120 unknown.