This Fungus Will Kill You in 90 Days … And It’s in Japan!

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  • A silent killer has been spreading all over the world over the past decade. The killer is known as Candida auris, and in recent days many news outlets reported on its risks and what was happening. After reading the news articles, many might have spotted that the bacteria was first identified in Japan, making some wonder whether Japan is at risk since this fungus is so invasive.

    What is Candida auris?

    First things first. We need to talk about what Candida auris is and why it’s considered so dangerous. Candida auris is not a virus, it’s a fungus, and it can cause incredibly dangerous and life-threatening infections once it enters someone’s bloodstream.

    The first identified case occurred in Japan, when the fungus was isolated from a patient’s ear in 2009.

    The Problem with Candida auris


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    Las infecciones por Candida auris se presentan principalmente en el ambiente hospitalario en forma de infecciones del torrente sanguíneo, en heridas y en otitis .También se ha cultivado en muestras de orina y en las vías respiratorias. Sin embargo, aún se desconoce si el aislamiento a partir de estas fuentes corresponde a una infección o a la colonización del microorganismo. Se ha documentado que C. auris causa infección en pacientes de cualquier grupo etario y que los factores de riesgo asociados son similares a aquellos reportados en condiciones causadas por otras especies de Candida: diabetes mellitus, cirugías recientes, tratamiento con antibióticos y presencia de catéter venoso central. Igualmente, se han reportado infecciones concomitantes con otras especies de Candida, incluso cuando el paciente está siendo tratado con antifúngicos . Epidemiologia El primer reporte de C. auris se hizo en el Japón en 2009 a partir de la secreción del oído de un paciente. A partir de ese momento, las infecciones por esta levadura, especialmente fungemias, se han reportado en Corea del Sur ,India ,Sur África y Kuwait . En Colombia ha habido casos de infección asociada a C. auris en Santa Marta, Barranquilla y Cartagena. Los aislamientos recuperados en Barranquilla fueron confirmados por los Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) de Atlanta. . . . #medicina #hospital #estudiante #paciente #clinica #candidaauris

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    The biggest problem with Candida auris is that it’s resistant to major anti-fungal drugs. To put it into perspective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 90% of these infections are resistant to at least one drug, while 30% are resistant to two or more. Therefore, once someone is infected, it is extremely difficult to treat. Most patients end up dying within 90 days of being diagnosed, which is a number that can understandably terrify people.

    Those at risk are people who already had a serious disease, meaning that those with a weakened immune system face are the most vulnerable ones. To make things worse, the fungus can remain on objects and people’s skin for a long time. This means that one can be exposed to Candida auris without even having come into contact with an infected individual. This has caused major problems across hospitals, some of which have had to essentially destroy rooms to remove tiles, ceilings, and floors that are contaminated.

    Adding an extra layer to the problem, there are many types of Candida species, meaning that there are cases where hospitals and other healthcare facilities around the world failed to identify whether the bacteria was Candida auris.

    The Emergence of Drug Resistant Bacteria

    One of the scariest things about Candida auris is that its emergence is a clear reminder of what can happen when microbes becomes resistant to our medications. For many years it had been mentioned that bacteria were evolving and adapting to our drugs, making the antifungal resistant Candida auris an example of the worst case scenario that had been discussed.

    How Is This Linked to Japan?

    Most of the information about Candia auris that was recently revealed involved data exclusive to the 587 cases that have occurred in the United States, so, is this a U.S. only problem?
    The short answer is “no.”

    The thing is, there is simply not enough information about Candida auris; and the little information that is available has not been made public. According to The New York Times, in 2015, when Royal Brompton Hospital in London found out it had a problem concerning Candida auris, there was no public announcement despite the hospital alerting the government. The reason behind this was that they did not want to scare patients. Ergo, one can only assume that other institutions and healthcare facilities would do the same.

    As you can see from this map from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, there are many countries that have seen multiple cases of C. auris, Japan included. Therefore, despite the lack of information, it’s important to know that Candia auris has been quickly spreading around the world.

    Did It Originate in Japan?

    Just because the fungus was first isolated and identified in Japan, it does not mean that this emerging threat has been spreading from Japan. In fact, there have been many strains, and Candida auris has been misidentified for years. In the case of the one isolated in Japan in 2009, it was later found out to be phylogenetically related to the ones from South Korea. Additionally, C. auris first appeared in South Korea as early as 1996, but was undetected. Therefore, there is possibility of the fungus spreading from there to Japan.

    What to Do?

    As stated before, those with a weakened immune system are at higher risk; meaning that, as of now, healthy individuals face low chances of getting sick. For that reason, you should not live your daily life worrying about the disease and the possibilities of it affecting you.

    Nevertheless, if you are visiting a hospital or health facility, or nursing home, it might be a good idea to ask whether they have had problems with Candida auris. You might not get a good answer, but at least you asked.