Candida auris: Dangerous yeast is spreading – what you need to know

Candida auris: Dangerous yeast is spreading – what you need to know

Candida auris is on the rise. The number of yeast infections is increasing – worldwide. The fungal infection can be life-threatening. The most important facts about the dangerous multidrug-resistant pathogen.

In the United States, there has been concern since the beginning of the year because the pathogen Candida auris is spreading at an “alarming speed”, according to the US Department of Health. Transmissions in healthcare facilities increased. In the worst case, an infection with the multi-resistant pathogen can be fatal. The number of cases is also increasing in Germany. These are the most important facts about the mushroom.

What is candida auris?

Candida auris is a yeast that can cause deadly infections. It is a multidrug resistant pathogen. Because there are always so-called nosocomial outbreaks in hospitals, i.e. infections that are acquired in connection with a medical measure, Candida auris is also referred to as a hospital germ.

Where does candida auris come from?

The yeast Candida auris was first described as a pathogen in 2009 in Japan. The fungus had caused an ear infection in a 70-year-old woman. However, the fungus may have its origins in a completely different place. Previously, he had performed at least once in Pakistan and South Korea, as has now been proven by rehearsals. In Germany, the first case was registered in 2015.

How is candida auris transmitted?

The yeast fungus is transmitted from person to person and via contaminated surfaces or objects as a smear infection. This also makes the mushroom special. Because such direct transmissions from person to person are rare with fungi.

Candida auris is difficult to fight and persistent. Often the fungus is even resistant to disinfectants. It can survive on surfaces for up to seven months. According to “Spektrum” four hours of contact with a contaminated surface or a carrier of Candida auris for an infection. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), medical products also play a special role in transmission.

How does the fungus multiply?

Fungi on the human body are normal. The immune system ensures that there are not too many. Yeast fungi (Candida) feel most comfortable in a humid microclimate and at temperatures between 30 and 40 degrees. They prefer to settle in body regions such as armpits and the groin area.

What symptoms does the fungal infection cause?

A mycosis, i.e. a fungal infection, usually affects the skin and mucous membranes, such as in the intimate area or the mouth. Ears, eyes and urinary tract can also become infected. Candida auris can also affect internal organs, the central nervous system and bones, among other things. If the fungus enters the bloodstream, it can lead to blood poisoning. Early diagnosis can therefore save lives.

How dangerous is candida auris?

In most cases, there is not much reason to worry. For healthy people, there is hardly any threat. Because most of the time it is a so-called colonization, which means that the fungus was “only” found on the body and does not have to be treated. However, if the fungus gets into the body, for example through wounds, it can become dangerous and cause serious illnesses.

People who are already ill, people with a weakened immune system or patients in intensive care units are particularly at risk. For them, an infection can be life-threatening. In 30 percent of cases, such an infection is fatal.

How is candida auris treated?

If the pathogens penetrate deep into the body, treatment may be necessary. However, it is not uncommon for the fungus to be resistant to one or more of the three groups of antifungal agents. Fluconazole is usually used against fungal infections. However, according to the RKI, the remedy does not work in more than 80 percent of infections with Candida auris. The fungus also shows a high resistance to other antimycotics. In four percent of cases, the fungus is untreatable.

How common is candida auris?

According to the World Health Organization, the fungus is now widespread in more than 50 countries. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies Candida auris as a serious threat. A total of 799 cases of infection were registered there by September 2019, in 2020 there were already 1310 cases, and in 2022 the number rose to 5754.

In Europe, the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported a total of 620 detections of Candida auris between 2013 and 2017. About three quarters of the cases were colonizations and one quarter were infections. Recently, there have been repeated infections in hospitals in Europe, for example England and Spain. The number of cases is also increasing in Germany.

How many cases in Germany are known?

In Germany there is no obligation to report Candida auris, how high the numbers actually are is not known. However, an increasing number of cases is reported. However, in this country it is a manageable number. According to the RKI, there were 10 documented cases by September 2019. In the meantime, the number has risen to 40, as Alexander Aldejohann from the Institute for Hygiene and Microbiology in Würzburg reported to “ZDF”. More than half of the cases have been detected in the past two years.

Why has the fungus gone undiscovered for so long?

Clearly identifying Candida auris is next to impossible without modern analysis equipment. It is often confused with other Candida species. This is problematic because common antimycotics often do not work against Candida auris.

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Source: Stern

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