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Candida Auris: The Resilient Fungus That Has Already Arrived In Latin America

Candida Auris fungus was discovered a decade ago became one of the biggest fears in hospitals: in humans, this species can cause invasive thrush, in which the bloodstream (fungemia), central nervous system, respiratory and internal organs are infected.

Most cases have been reported in hospitals around the world, mainly affecting patients with weakened immune systems. Recently, the fungus Candida Auris has attracted greater attention due to its expansion.

In addition, the treatment of invasive thrush is very complicated because, in the first place, it is difficult to diagnose, so 60% of those infected so far have lost their lives. Add to this its resistance to multiple drugs.

Professor Janiel Nett, from the Department of Medicine and Medical Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Wisconsin, told the BBC that more than 90% of infections caused by Candida Auris are resistant to at least one drug, while 30% are resistant to two or more drugs.

“We have come to see this resistance develop in the same patient throughout treatment,” added researcher Johanna Rhodes, an infectious disease specialist at Imperial College London. “And it seems that the resistance of the fungus also develops as it expands around the world.”

Why is it expanding?

Candida Auris was first described after being isolated from the ear canal of a 70-year-old Japanese woman at Tokyo Metropolitan Hospital in 2009.

The first cases of infection were reported in South Korea in 2011, followed by others in Asia and Europe, until reaching the United States in 2013.

Since then, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CCPEEU) has warned that more and more countries are being affected by the fungus and infection it causes, especially in Latin America.

So far they have joined the Colombia, Venezuela and Panama list, as well as Chile and Costa Rica with unique cases.

According to the BBC, a recent study suggests that global warming has fueled the spread of the fungus Candida Auris because, “like most of these organisms, it prefers fresh soil temperatures, but the overall rise in temperatures could have forced him to adapt to warmer environments, which has made it easier for the fungus to survive in the human body, with temperatures between 36 and 37 degrees Celsius.”

Should we be worried?

Despite the spread of the fungus and the deaths it has caused, Rhodes said that healthy people should not worry too much or stop going to the hospital for fear of getting the infection.

“These patients were already hospitalized when they developed invasive thrush and their immune system was weakened,” he explained. “So it’s important to remember that even though they died with the infection, that doesn’t necessarily mean they died because of it.”

The researcher added that today health professionals in almost every country in the world already know how to identify infections caused by Candida Auris, so they are “better prepared.”

He also highlighted another good news story: many companies are starting to develop drugs to fight new infections. However, he clarified, they will still have to go through clinical trials and be approved, which will take time.

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