Superbug fungus cases rising in Chicago

A new superbug which is drug-resistant and produces dangerous fungal infections is surfacing in increasing numbers in the Chicago area.

A suburban mother who was being treated for it at Northwestern has died.

“She would be happy to know that maybe one family will not have to experience what we experienced,” said Jason Spoor-Harvey.

Jason is the son of Stephanie Spoor, a 64-year-old retired pre-school teacher from Crystal Lake who died in February at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The mother of four was awaiting a lung transplant when she contracted a rare fungus called Candida Aurus.

“The notes in her medical records say that it mostly likely came from the insertion of one of the cannulas, or an IV,” Jason said.

Doctors treated the infection with a drug cocktail which had succeeded in the past, but it didn't stop Stephanie’s infection. Illinois ranks third in the country, behind New York and New Jersey, in cases of Candida Aurus. The state health department says the number on confirmed cases rose from six cases in 2016 to 154 last year, with 95 cases in Chicago and 56 elsewhere in Cook County.

Northwestern Hospital declined to comment about Stephanie death. Her family believes hospitals and nursing homes should be required to report about the presence of drug resistant infections.

“People need to know to ask specifically about this because, you need to know, like we should have known that there were previous cases of this. Because in knowing that, the follow-up question is, how are you addressing this? How are you preventing the spread of this,” Jason said.

The CDC recently issued an urgent alert regarding the Candida Aurus fungus.