The rise of Candida auris indicates that like bacteria, germs are growing resistance
- The germ, a fungus called Candida auris, preys on people with weakened immune systems, and it is quietly spreading across the globe. Over the past five years, it has hit a neonatal unit in Venezuela, swept through a hospital in Spain, forced a prestigious British medical centre to shut down its intensive care unit, and taken root in India, Pakistan and South Africa.
- C. auris is so tenacious, in part, because it is impervious to major antifungal medications, making it a new example of one of the world’s most intractable health threats: the rise of drug-resistant infections.
- For decades, public health experts have warned that the overuse of antibiotics was reducing the effectiveness of drugs that have lengthened life spans by curing bacterial infections once commonly fatal. But lately, there has been an explosion of resistant fungi as well, adding a new and frightening dimension to a phenomenon that is undermining a pillar of modern medicine.
- Simply put, fungi, just like bacteria, are evolving defences to survive medicines.
- Antibiotics and antifungals are both essential to combat infections in people, but antibiotics are also used widely to prevent disease in farm animals, and antifungals are also applied to prevent agricultural plants from rotting.
- The germs are easily spread — carried on hands and equipment inside hospitals; ferried on meat and manure-fertilized vegetables from farms; transported across borders by travellers and on exports and imports; and transferred by patients from nursing home to hospital and back.