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What You Need to Know about Candida auris, its Symptoms and Spread in Hospitals

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What You Need to Know about Candida auris, its Symptoms and Spread in Hospitals

(CTN News) – Candida auris (C. auris) is a drug-resistant fungus known for around 15 years but is already one of the most dreaded hospital microorganisms in the world.

The yeast-like fungus can cause problems with the circulatory system, the neurological system, and several internal organs if it manages to enter the body.

Patients with an invasive illness have a death rate of between 30 and 53 percent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The fact that the fungus resists the most common antifungal medications adds more cause for concern. James Gallagher, the BBC’s health correspondent, warns that certain strains resist all available treatments.

More than 30 nations have reported outbreaks, as reported by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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From 2009 to 2019, roughly 4,750 new cases were reported in 2020 from those countries.

According to the CDC, new information from 2020 and 2021 shows that the fungus “spread at an alarming rate in US healthcare facilities.”

The number of clinical cases in the country tripled between 2019 and 2021, rising from 476 to 1,471.

A 2019 study by an international group of experts also found that climate change-related temperature increases may have contributed to the increase in Candida auris infections.

The facts regarding this lethal superbug are laid forth below.

What is Candida auris?

Candida auris (C. auris) is a yeast, a family of fungi that includes both useful to humans and pathogenic species, such as those used in baking and brewing.

Thrush is caused by the common yeast Candida albicans, which can potentially lead to more serious illnesses.

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Candida auris got its name when it was found in a patient’s ear canal at the Tokyo Metropolitan Geriatric Hospital in 2009. (auris is Latin for the ear).

Candida yeasts can coexist on the skin without causing any issues in healthy people.

However, when we are weakened, or the yeasts travel to an inappropriate location, such as the bloodstream or the lungs, they can cause infections.

What sort of illness does it cause?

The bloodstream is the most common site of infection caused by C. auris, but the respiratory system, central nervous system, internal organs, and skin are all vulnerable.

In most cases, these infections become fatal.

Infections caused by fungi are notoriously challenging to cure due to the fungus’s resistance to standard treatments.

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“The biggest problem with this fungus is its resistance to the drugs we have,” said Dr. Tina Joshi, associate professor in Molecular Biology at the University of Plymouth, in the UK.

C. auris infections are notoriously tricky to diagnose since they resemble many other fungal infections.

This implies the patient’s illness may persist or worsen before receiving the care they need.

How does it spread?

Hospitals are particularly high-risk for transmission because of the prevalence of patient contact with contaminated surfaces. It is affixed to blood pressure cuffs and intravenous lines.

According to Dr. Neil Stone, a top fungus expert at University College London Hospital for Tropical Diseases, it is extremely difficult to remove.

Total ward closures are a common response.

Dr. Stone characterized it as “the most worrying fungi,” warning that ignoring it would be a mistake.

It has the potential to disrupt medical services nationwide.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated on March 20 claiming that fresh data shows the fungus has “spread at an alarming rate” in the United States.

Should I be worried about getting an infection?

Getting infected with C. auris during your regular day is highly improbable.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, patients in intensive care settings and those hospitalized for an extended period are at particularly high risk for contracting C. auris.

Antibiotic overuse increases infection risk because the medications kill off beneficial bacteria that otherwise would keep C. auris out of the body.

Why is C. auris resistant to the usual drugs?

Most strains of Candida auris have developed resistance to the most frequently used antifungal medications, such as fluconazole.

This indicates that Candida auris is resistant to these medicines. This has led to the adoption of less widely available antifungal medicines for the treatment of infections; nevertheless, C. auris has also shown resistance to them.

DNA analysis reveals that C. auris harbors antifungal resistance genes comparable to those of the widespread C. albicans.

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This raises the possibility that genes for resistance were transferred between the species.

If global warming is to blame for the outbreak, why aren’t fewer cases?

In 2019, researchers from the American Society for Microbiology released a paper in their journal mBio that hypothesized that C. auris’s rise in prevalence could be traced to the fact that it now must adapt to greater temperatures as a result of global warming.

Fungi thrive in the soil’s typically lower temperatures. However, since the Earth’s average temperature has increased, C. auris has had to modify its habitat accordingly.

This may be why the fungus did so well within the human body, where temperatures average between 36 and 37 degrees Celsius.

What can be done to control the number of infections?

The first step in minimizing C. auris infections is improving our knowledge of who is at the greatest risk of developing the disease.

When studying fungi, “we are behind the curve,” as Dr. Joshi put it.

“I’m not surprised that we’re playing catch-up now.”

People with compromised immune systems or those who spend extended time in healthcare facilities, such as hospitals or nursing homes, should be considered at higher risk.

There is variation in how different medical centers diagnose C. auris. Treatment for thrush, another fungal infection, is sometimes administered to a person with an athlete’s foot.

Earlier detection of C. auris cases will allow for more effective treatment and less chance of the disease spreading to other patients.

Dr. Joshi stressed the importance of bolstering infection prevention measures.

We know how hard it is to treat the effects of infection on patients; thus, preventing them is the top priority.

Sanitation and housekeeping in hospitals must be prioritized.

Is this the only nasty fungus around?

Just barely. The World Health Organization (WHO) identified no fewer than 19 fungi that pose a significant threat to human health in its first-ever list of fungal “priority pathogens,” issued in October last year.

According to the WHO, Candida auris is “intrinsically resistant to most available antifungal medicines,” making it one of four fungi in the “critical priority” category.

Related CTN News:

China Approves first Domestically Developed mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine

Arsi Mughal is a staff writer at CTN News, delivering insightful and engaging content on a wide range of topics. With a knack for clear and concise writing, he crafts articles that resonate with readers. Arsi's pieces are well-researched, informative, and presented in a straightforward manner, making complex subjects accessible to a broad audience. His writing style strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and casual approachability, ensuring an enjoyable reading experience.

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