Deadly, Drug Resistant Fungus Could Be Next Global Threat


According to The New York Times, Candida auris is a fungus that can cause life-threatening infections when it enters a person's bloodstream.

The man at Mount Sinai died after 90 days in the hospital, but C. auris did not.

An elderly patient who was hospitalized last May at Mount Sinai Hospital in Brooklyn underwent abdominal surgery.

However, he adds, "While I see C.auris about once a month, I have seen people dying of multi-drug resistant bacteria daily". Since then, as of February 2019, cases have been reported from 32 countries across the world - Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Venezuela - largely in hospitals.

Afterwards, the hospital "needed special cleaning equipment" and ended up removing "some of the ceiling and floor tiles" in the man's room in order to get rid of the fungus.

Some scientists have identified evidence that the massive use of fungicides on crops has been a huge contributor to the increase in drug-resistant fungi infecting humans.

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"So far, most of the cases have occurred in patients with weakened immune systems such as very low birthweight premature infants, the elderly who have had complicated surgery, or patients undergoing chemotherapy", he told The New Paper, adding that there is nearly no chance of it becoming a Sars-type epidemic.

The fungus was seen in the USA for the first time in 2013.

Dr Chia Shi-Lu, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health, said while the fungus is not a threat to healthy individuals, that we know little about it is worrying. "In some outbreaks, reported mortality has approached 60 percent". Drug-resistant infections, known as superbugs, have come into the spotlight this week after a report in the New York Times chronicled the escalation of a drug-resistant fungus called Candida auris around the world, and how hospitals have managed to keep it quiet - until now. Oliver Wilkinson, a spokesman for the Royal Brompton Hospital, a hospital where C. auris had spread in 2015, said "there was no need to put out a news release during the outbreak".

The CDC has an ongoing case count, but only identifies cases in each state.

Some experts think heavy use of pesticides and other antifungal treatments caused candida auris to pop up in a variety of locations around the same time. However, some C. auris infections have been resistant to all three main classes of antifungal medications, making them more hard to treat. You can find more information here.