Tuesday, July 05, 2016

The Fungal Infection Threat

Prof Neil Gow, from the University of Aberdeen, said  "Most people know about mild fungal infections, but nobody's ever died from athlete's foot. However, a million people die a year from fungal infections”

Fungal infections kill more people than malaria or breast cancer but are not considered a priority. There are no vaccines and there is a "pressing need" for new treatments.

There are more than five million types of fungi, but only three major groups cause the majority of deaths in people:
 Aspergillus - which affects the lungs
Cryptococcus - which mainly attacks the brain
Candida - which infects mucosal membranes including in the mouth and genitals

A new strain of Candida auris  infection was first detected in 2009 in Japan, but has since been discovered across Asia and parts of south America. Public Health England said "Candida auris appears to be unlike other pathogenic yeast species in its propensity for transmission between hospital patients" and warned it was resistant to the first choice anti-fungal drugs, fluconazole, amphotericin B and caspofungin. U.S. public health officials are urging doctors and nurses to be on the lookout for the dangerous pathogen, which can be fatal in 30 percent to 60 percent of infected patients. Common yeast infections can be identified through conventional testing, but the specialized, molecular detection methods necessary for identifying C. auris are not available to all hospitals.

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