EDEN IAS

DEADLY FUNGUS CANDIDA AURIS

DEADLY FUNGUS CANDIDA AURIS, THAT IS RAPIDLY SPREADING IN US?

Introduction to DEADLY FUNGUS CANDIDA AURIS:

In the US, a deadly fungus infection known as Candida Auris is spreading quickly. Four individuals in the state of Washington tested positive recently. Doctors warn that even while infections are rare, they can nevertheless pose a risk because of their high death rate, resistance to medications, and ease of transfer within medical institutions.

WHAT IS CANDIDA AURIS?

Candida Auris (C. Auris) is a yeast, a family of fungus which contains species pretty helpful to humans in activities such as bread-making and beer-brewing, but which also features species that cause infections in humans.

DEADLY FUNGUS CANDIDA AURIS

One example is the very common Candida albicans, which causes thrush but also may trigger more severe infections.

I. Auris was first discovered in the ear canal of a patient at the Tokyo Metropolitan Geriatric Hospital in 2009, which inspired its name (Auris is Latin for ear).

II. Most of the time, Candida yeasts live on our skin without causing problems, but they can cause infections if we are unwell or they get into the wrong place, like the bloodstream or the lungs.

III. Auris is often resistant to antifungal medications making it difficult to treat. In some cases, multiple anti-fungal infections at high doses may be needed to treat the infection. C. Auris is spread in health care facilities through contact with contaminated surfaces or equipment’s or from physical contact of the person who has C. Auris.

IV. It mostly affects patients with severe underlying medical conditions and requiring complex medical care. Whereas patients with invasive medical devices such as breathing tubes, feeding tubes, catheters in a vein, or urinary catheters tend to be at increased risk.

WHAT SORT OF ILLNESS DOES IT CAUSE DEADLY FUNGUS CANDIDA AURIS?

  1. Auris most frequently causes bloodstream infections, but it can also affect the respiratory system, the central nervous system and internal organs, as well as the skin.
    These infections are usually quite serious.

The fungus is often resistant to the usual drugs, which makes infections difficult to treat.

“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.

“But another issue is that identifying a C. Auris infection is quite difficult and it can easily be mistaken for other fungi, leading to the wrong treatment.”

This means that the patient might be ill for longer, or get worse before accessing the appropriate treatment.

SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES

Symptoms of a C. Auris infection depend on where in your body the fungus infects. Some symptoms could include.

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Lethargy (extreme tiredness)
  • Low blood pressure
  • High heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Low body temperature (Hypothermia)
  • Pain, pressure, or feeling of fullness in your ear (C. Auris ear infection).

Since many people who get C. Auris infections are already seriously ill, symptoms of C. Auris may not be noticeable. Many people carrying C. Auris don’t have symptoms but can still pass it to someone else.

CAN CANDIDA AURIS SPREAD THROUGH AIR?

No, experts don’t believe that C. Auris spreads through air. It’s usually carried on your skin and travels from person to person through contaminated objects.

WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS FOR CANDIDA AURIS INFECTIONS?

Most people who contact C. Auris infections have a weekend immune system from an underlying health condition. You might be at higher risk if you have:

  • A central venous line, breathing tube, feeding tube, bladder catheter or another device that goes into your body. These can allow C. Auris to get into your body from outside.
  • A blood cancer or diabetes.
  • Been in hospital or another healthcare facility for a long time.
  • Had surgery recently.
  • Been on antibiotics for a long time, or use them frequently.
                                                    FUNGAL DISEASES

 

Fungi are everywhere, but only some cause disease known as fungal disease. Numerous fungi that are frequently found in the environment are the cause of these disorders. The microscopic creatures known as fungi can be found in soil, vegetation, and even on human skin and interior surfaces. Only a small percentage of the millions of different kinds of fungi that exist can cause illness in humans. For example, lung fungal diseases often mimic common illnesses such as the flu or tuberculosis. Conversely, minor fungal infections are extremely frequent and resemble rashes.

 

RECENT U.S. CASES

Following the first confirmed case in Washington state in January, 2024, three more infections were reported recently. Prior to these cases, 2377 Candida Auris infections were reported in the U.S. in 2022 compared to just 53 in 2016. The centers for Disease control (CDC) and world health organization now consider it an urgent threat.

PREVENTION AND CONTROL

Healthcare providers follow safety and sterilization rules to prevent healthcare-acquired infections like C. Auris. These include:

  • Handwashing
  • Disinfecting surfaces
  • Ensuring that people only take anti-biotics when they have bacterial infections.
  • Sterilizing medical devices.
  • Screening patients and visitors to healthcare facilities when there’s a suspected outbreak.
  • Quarantining (isolating) people with C. Auris infections so it doesn’t spread to other people.

You can help prevent C. Auris infections by washing your hands frequently, especially if you’re caring for someone with a weakened immune system or who’s spent a long time in a healthcare facility recently. You can also ask your provider how long you need to use invasive medical devices like catheters.

GLOBAL SPREAD

Candida Auris was initially identified in Japan in 2009 and is currently present in more than 40 nations worldwide. Infection rates have been sharply increasing in recent years. It is hard to control since it can linger on surfaces and spread across medical environments. To stop transmission, better infection prevention strategies are essential.

 

Sources: Mint, THE HINDU, Wikipedia