Superbug Fungus: Basics to Know

Overview

Recently, health officials warn of “a serious global health threat” from a superbug fungus, which is “pretty much unbeatable and difficult to identify”. The so-called superbug fungus is Candida auris (C. auris), a yeast fungus. It is growing more resistant to antifungal medications and can turn deadly. That is to say, although most Candida auris infections are treatable with antifungal medications, some have proven to be resistant to all 3 main classes of antifungal medications.

The superbug fungus mostly attacks people with weakened immune systems. Through various forms of infections, it leads to illnesses and even deaths.

It’s firstly discovered in 2009 but has quickly spread globally. Up to now, it has caused illnesses in more than 20 countries. In the United States, at least 587 people have been sickened by the fungus. Furthermore, 30–60% of people with superbug fungus have died according to CDC.

Symptoms

Through contact with affected patients and contaminated surfaces or items, the fungus spreads in hospitals and nursing homes. In the forms of bloodstream infections, wound infections, and ear infections, candida auris affects your health. For healthy people with strong immune systems, carrying the germ is not a concern, while for others, it could be deadly.

Diagnosis

The symptoms of the fungus are hard to detect, as it mostly preys on people who are already sick. So, the diagnosis is also difficult. It often requires a culture of blood and other lab tests with the help of specific technology.

Treatment

Once diagnosed with Candida auris infections, patients need echinocandins (a class of antifungal medication) for treatment. However, some infections have been resistant to all 3 main classes of antifungal medications. In that case, antifungal medications at high doses may be helpful.

Cautions & Precautions

What’s more, as the fungus can spread through contact with infected persons or contaminated items in healthcare settings, you need to take the following steps if you’re diagnosed with C. auris infection:

  • Be placed in a room without roommates
  • Remind others to wear gowns and gloves when they surround you
  • Bandage the wounds to prevent any fluids from seeping out
  • Keep items you touch often clean and disinfected after use
  • Keep good hand hygiene

It is worth noting that these precautions can only be stopped when your healthcare providers tell you so, because you can still carry C. auris in the body without infections after successful treatment.

Since C. auris is the only concern for people who often spend a lot of time in healthcare settings with weakened immune systems, your family members and friends who are healthy will be probably fine. They will probably not be infected.

Some precautions are necessary, though. If you have a C. auris infection, your family members and friends should wash hands thoroughly before and after touching you or medical devices. If they are admitted to a healthcare facility, tests for C. auris may be needed.

Keywords: superbug fungus; candida auris; c. auris.

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