Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 09 April 2019
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Superbug fungus on the rise

Multiple states are reporting cases of a super fungus resistant to the strongest of antifungal medications.

The CDC is now reporting 587 confirmed clinical cases of the fungal infection, Candida auris (C. auris), that unfortunately is resistant to multiple types of antifungal drugs. Moreover another 1056 cases are being monitored who were in contact with those infected.  This spike is very worrisome.

States reporting cases include:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas
  • Virginia

The majority of the cases are in New York, Illinois, and New Jersey.  It was first seen in 2016 in Illinois ad 60% of those infected that year had died but they had other comorbid conditions, which could have also contributed to their becoming infected with C. auris to begin with.

Please note that this fungus is different from  the species, Candida albicans, which causes common yeast infections.

When investigators analyzed the facilities, they found C. auris had colonized mattresses, beds, chairs, counter surfaces, infusion pumps, and window sills.  By this, the superbug demonstrates its resilience outside a human host.

The super fungus still has some vulnerability to antifungal medication but its resistance is increasing.

  1. auris can cause a variety of infections involving the skin and ear, but most concerning, is sepsis (infection of the bloodstream).  C.  auris was first identified in Japan back in 2009, but upon retrospective review, the CDC states the earliest known strain dates back to 1996. Since then it has been reported in multiple countries including the UK, Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain,  and Venezuela.

Most hospital disinfectants are currently designed to be antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral.  The CDC has urged healthcare facilities to be diligent in their cleaning practices and to be aware of this “super fungus.”

 

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

Published in Health

The robot uprising, continues. Back in December, Walmart announced a partnership with Brain Corp, a Sand Diego based software technology company. Brain Corp, it seems, will provide the world’s largest retailer with - AI robots! As janitors!

That’s right! Walmart now has robot janitors. Well, not all Walmart's. In fact, back in December it was a rollout program with about 300 or so robots in as many stores. But the program has proven to be wildly successful for the company and so Walmart announced it will add thousands of new robots in more than 4500+ stores. All of which should be operational by February 2020.

Basically, the robots scrub the floor. According to the Brain Corp website, the “Auto-C,” cleaner robots:

“...allow store associates to quickly map a route during an initial training ride and then activate autonomous floor cleaning with the press of a single button. The robot uses multiple sensors to scan its surroundings for people and obstacles … 

But that's not all they can do. They can also scan shelf inventory, scan boxes as they come off delivery trucks and then sort the boxes onto conveyor belts.

Obviously, Walmart puts a largely positive spin on the robot uprising saying the Auto-C is more efficient and that by the way, “no one really likes the job of janitor anyway” (Their words, not mine).  

While it’s true that robots are more efficient than people, it still means that a robot is taking the job of a person. Positive spin aside, I find it unlikely that someone would choose 1) I’m super happy to let a robot take my job vs. 2) I have a job. Especially, since many experts in the field agree that automation will take over approx. 40% of the U.S. jobs in 15-20 years. That’s - well … not great.

Walmart claims that their “smart assistants” will allow workers to focus on selling merchandise & customer service roles. That’s true. What Walmart doesn’t say is that they are going to have to get rid of a large portion of their work staff as they hand jobs over to “smart assistants.” So, yeah - the employees that remain will certainly have more time to focus on selling merchandise. Fact.

The folk that get laid off might want to take some classes in robot repair. That’s probably going to be a well sought after job in about 20 years. Just sayin.

Published in Technology