- A fungus called Candida auris is spreading at an alarming rate around the world. It is resistant to drug treatments.
- Candida auris outbreaks are common in hospitals and other healthcare facilities where the most vulnerable or immunocompromised individuals are present.
- In a recent article in Annals of Internal Medicine, a group of physicians called on healthcare to improve infection control methods and further study the dangerous fungus to halt its spread.
- As of May 31, 2019, there were 685 confirmed cases of Candida auris in the US alone.
- Further information can be found on the INSIDER homepage.
A deadly fungus that was first discovered in Japan in 2009 has been spreading at alarming rates around the world and troubles health professionals because it can withstand treatments that once could stop it.
Now, a group of doctors are raising alarm and saying the spread of this fungus, called Candida auris, should be a major concern for the health community's editorial in Annals of Internal Medicine, according to their Monday, because of its difficult-to-treat nature.
Candida auris is a drug-resistant fungus that has learned to develop so rapidly that it can not always be stopped with the antimycotics available today. It is one of many Candida species, a kind of yeast that is not always dangerous. In fact, one species, Candida albicans, is present in human mouths, intestines, and throats without causing any infections, according to the Centers for the Control and Prevention of Diseases. However, other species can cause infection if the yeast enters the bloodstream or into the organs of a person.
The outbreak of Candida auris is particularly disturbing as it often occurs in hospitals and other health care facilities where the most vulnerable individuals or persons with compromised immune systems reside. According to CDC, the fungus can live on walls and other surfaces like furniture for weeks, posing a large but invisible threat.
"It is an urgent threat as many strains are resistant to at least two of the three major classes of antimycotics used to treat Candida infections, and to an extent that it leads to outbreaks of health care, as it does to others Candida strains are not the case species, "wrote the doctors.
As of May 31
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"Candida auris can often be mistakenly identified as another yeast when only biochemical methods are used," they wrote, referring to a common laboratory test for living organisms. The authors added that "identification systems are improving".
If Candida auris is misidentified, it may not be well defined and may spread, killing people.
The fungus spreads quickly and is often undetectable until it is too late.
Since most people who get the fungus are already sick and in the hospital, symptoms of Candida auris, such as fever and chills, can be confused with disease symptoms, which has taken them to the hospital first and foremost.
In addition, the fungus does not always affect exactly the same body region. In some cases Candida auris can lead to a circulatory infection, in other cases it can lead to a wound or ear infection.
According to CDC, healthy people usually do not get infected with Candida auris.
Due to the amazing and unique circumstances in which the fungus can thrive, physicians believe that the best way to prevent it from spreading is to conduct more research on Candida auris, while at the same time working harder in hospitals and other health care settings work to keep infected patients away from uninfected ones.
In addition, physicians may prevent their spread by monitoring hygiene measures such as hand washing and sanitizing areas where patients are present.
For patients, hand washing and encouraging healthcare providers to do the same is the best way to protect themselves from Candida auris.