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Drug-resistant fungus poses a global health threat
Health experts warn of a "serious global health threat" from the drug-resistant yeast Candida auris. In the United States alone, the fungus has already caused around 600 diseases. Several deaths have also been reported.
In the fall of 2016, the US health agency CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reported for the first time about a new fungal disease, which in some cases is fatal. The yeast Candida auris was therefore linked to several deaths in the United States. The fungus was first detected in 2009 in a patient in Japan as a causative agent of otomycosis (fungal disease of the external auditory canal). But it is now rampant in numerous other countries. According to the CDC, it is now a “serious global health threat”.
Infection can be life-threatening
Numerous microorganisms live on the skin, including yeasts. Candida fungi can be detected in about 75 percent of people.
With a healthy immune system, the yeasts on the skin and mucous membranes are usually not a problem.
They live on the skin without being noticed. And even if they lead to skin yeast diseases, simple home remedies for candida can often help.
However, if the new yeast Candida auris gets into the bloodstream, the infection that often occurs in hospitals and other health care facilities can be life-threatening.
Nearly 600 diseases in the United States
Since the fungus was first identified, at least 587 illnesses have occurred in the USA alone, reports the US news broadcaster “CBS News”.
According to "CBS New York". An elderly man died at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York last year after an abdominal surgery from the fungus.
According to the information, the yeast is said to have caused diseases in more than 20 countries.
Increased awareness without unnecessary scaremongering
"Candida auris can get into the bloodstream of those infected and cause sepsis, a so-called blood poisoning," said Professor Oliver Kurzai in a statement from the University of Würzburg, where the doctor holds the chair for medical microbiology and mycology.
He also heads the National Reference Center for Invasive Fungal Infections (NRZMyk) in Jena.
Professor Kurzai is one of the authors of a statement by experts from Germany and Austria, in which increased attention is recommended in connection with Candida auris, but at the same time warned against unnecessary scaremongering.
Difficult to identify
However, Candida auris is a "serious global health threat", according to the CDC.
The authority justifies this primarily because the fungus is difficult to identify in the usual routine examinations and is difficult to treat due to the widespread resistance.
It is also dangerous because of outbreaks, especially in health facilities.
Candida auris colonizes the ears and airways, but it can also cause serious infections in the blood or wounds.
Experts are concerned that so far there is no medicine against the yeast. "It's a huge problem," Matthew Fisher of Imperial College London told The New York Times.
"We rely on being able to treat these patients with antifungals," said the co-author of a study on the growth of resistant fungi.
People with weakened immune systems are at risk
According to health experts, Candida auris is a fatal danger for people with a weakened immune system, diabetics or premature babies - these groups of people often suffer from multi-organ failure after being infected.
Based on the comparatively few cases to date, the CDC has determined that around 40 to 60 percent of the patients infected with Candida auris have died.
However, it is usually not possible to say exactly whether the fungus was actually the cause, because each of them was a seriously ill patient.
"Candida auris is not a threat to a healthy person," said Professor Kurzai. (ad)