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  1. U.S. health officials are warning hundreds of thousands of clinicians in hospitals around the country to be on the lookout for an emerging and highly drug-resistant type of yeast that is causing potentially fatal infections in hospitalized patients around the world. Most people are familiar with the garden variety kind of yeast infections that people get on the skin or in their genitals. But invasive yeast infections can be fatal, especially for patients in intensive care or having surgery. Others at risk include people with diabetes, patients taking powerful antibiotics and antifungal medications, and those with catheters. This emerging strain of yeast, known as Candida auris, has triggered outbreaks in health-care settings, causing bloodstream, wound and ear infections. Since 2009, the pathogen has been found in nine countries on four continents, including one possible infection in the United States in 2013. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent a clinical alert late last week to U.S. health-care facilities and dozens of medical societies to share with their members. “CDC is concerned that C. auris will emerge in new locations, including the United States,” the alert said. The infections have most commonly been acquired in hospitals and occurred several weeks into a patient's hospital stay. Officials warn that the yeast doesn’t respond to common antifungal drugs and is difficult to identify with standard laboratory methods. “What concerned us is that it is potentially resistant to one or two, if not all three” main classes of antifungal drugs used to treat these infections, said Tom Chiller, the CDC’s top fungus expert, in an interview Tuesday. Invasive infections with any type of Candida can be fatal. Based on information from a limited number of patients, 60 percent of people with this new type of Candida infection have died, but it’s not clear how many of them had other serious illnesses that also increased their risk of death. Most hospital labs in the United States also don’t have the capacity to identify the new strain because it can be confused with other more common types of yeast. As a result, misidentification could lead to inappropriate treatment, he said. That’s particularly important with this organism because the limited data so far suggests that the infections have occurred primarily in patients who were already in the hospital for other reasons. Unlike other types of yeast that typically spread from person to person, “this one seems to get into hospital settings and stay there,” Chiller said, and may spread from contact with the environment, such as contaminated surfaces or equipment. The organism was first identified in 2009 in Japan from a patient’s external ear discharge. Infections have also occurred in South Korea, India, South Africa, Kuwait, Pakistan, Colombia, Venezuela and the United Kingdom. Because identification requires specialized laboratory methods, the CDC alert said infections likely occurred in other countries but have not been identified or reported. Based on a review of specimens collected in the past, CDC officials said they are aware of one possible infection in the United States in 2013 that was collected by a private lab. The CDC has tested a small sample ofCandida specimens over the last eight years, and so far the deadly new yeast has not turned up. But the testing is limited, he said — there’s surveillance at only four sites in the country, and only about 7,000 samples have been analyzed. The CDC is recommending that hospitals and other health-care facilities that suspect they have a patient with such an infection contact local public health authorizes and the CDC. They also recommend that patients carrying or infected with this organism have their own rooms, and that their rooms are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected every day with an EPA-registered, hospital-grade disinfectant that targets fungus. Source:
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  2. Photo: Tara Moore/Getty Images Sure, your weekday may be on the quieter side — especially if you spend the better part of the day typing away in a cubicle, using Slack instead of your voice to communicate with other people — but how often do you experience true, honest-to-goodness silence? Not nearly often enough, as it turns out. According to a CDC report released earlier today and highlighted by the Washington Post, our lives are way, way too noisy — noisy enough, in fact, that a disconcertingly high number of Americans are losing their hearing way before old age. The report analyzed data from the 2011–2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which collected information from a sample of Americans between the ages of 20 and 69. The findings were twofold: First, a significant chunk of people across age groups are suffering from some degree of hearing loss, and second, we’re pretty bad at knowing when it happens to us. As the Post explained: A quarter of people ages 20 to 69 were suffering some hearing deficits, the CDC reported in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, even though the vast majority of the people in the study claimed to have good or excellent hearing. The researchers found that 24 percent of adults had “audiometric notches” — a deterioration in the softest sound a person can hear — in one or both ears … The review’s more surprising finding — which the CDC had not previously studied — was that 53 percent of those people said they had no regular exposure to loud noise at work. That means the hearing loss was caused by other environmental factors, including listening to music through headphones with the volume turned up too high. That last part helps explain another surprising finding: Hearing loss starts a lot earlier than we think it does, affecting roughly one in five people in their 20s. Even short-term exposure to loud noises can do some damage, the Post noted: Spending “14 minutes at a 100-decibel sporting event or two minutes at a 110-decibel rock concert” can have a lasting effect. Just another reminder than everything fun is bad for you. And also that it wouldn’t kill you to lower the volume a little bit.
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  3. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Puerto Rico could see "hundreds of thousands of cases of Zika virus." Officials also said the rest of the country needs to be prepared for possible outbreaks. (April 11)

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