Health risk: New yeast can be very dangerous for people

Candida auris: Newly discovered yeast spreads more and more
A newly discovered yeast is currently worrying health professionals. Candida auris, which was only discovered in 2009, can cause infections that can be extremely dangerous for some people. Even deaths have been linked to it.

Dangerous yeast is on the rise
Last fall, the CDC reported a new fungal disease that was fatal in some cases. The yeast Candida auris was therefore linked to several deaths in the United States. The fungus was first detected in a patient in Japan in 2009. But it is now rampant in numerous other countries. Experts from Germany and Austria have therefore now drawn up a statement in which they recommend increased attention, but at the same time warn against unnecessary scaremongering.

Infection can be life-threatening
Numerous microorganisms live on the skin, including yeasts. Candida fungi can be detected in about 75 percent of people. With a healthy immune system, the yeasts on the skin and mucous membranes are usually not a problem.

They live on the skin without being noticed. And even if they lead to skin yeast diseases, simple home remedies for candida can often help.

However, if the new yeast Candida auris gets into the bloodstream, the infection that often occurs in hospitals and other health care facilities can be life-threatening.

"Candida auris can get into the bloodstream of infected people and cause sepsis, so-called blood poisoning," said Professor Oliver Kurzai in a message published by the Science Information Service (idw).

The doctor heads the National Reference Center for Invasive Fungal Infections (NRZMyk) in Jena and has held the Chair for Medical Microbiology and Mycology at the University of Würzburg since early 2017.

At the same time, the fungus is not always reliably identifiable in the usual routine examinations and difficult to treat due to the widespread resistance.

Therefore, increased attention is required from medical personnel. According to the expert, there is no reason for the population to worry. "Candida auris is not a threat to a healthy person," said Kurzai.

Several cases registered in Germany
CDC director Tom Frieden said in a press release last year: "We must act now to better understand, control and stop the spread of this drug-resistant fungus."

But apparently the spread could not be stopped yet. In recent months, numerous diseases with the dangerous yeast have been recorded in the USA, Great Britain and India, among others.

Experts are now expecting cases to increase in Germany too. After a single case in 2015, the NRZMyk has already registered three cases this year.

“However, it can be assumed that the number of cases is higher. There are certainly laboratories that the pathogen has slipped through, ”explained center manager Kurzai in a message from the dpa news agency.

People with weakened immune systems are at risk
Candida auris colonizes the ears and respiratory tract, but it can also cause serious infections in the blood or in wounds.

According to health experts, however, the fungus is a deadly danger for people with a weakened immune system, diabetics or premature babies - these groups of people often suffer from multi-organ failure after being infected.

The problem is that many diagnostic laboratories are not yet sufficiently prepared for the yeast that has only been known for a few years. The pathogen is also not yet sufficiently familiar to medical personnel.

“The current standard methods for fungal infections do not recognize this yeast. In the best case, the tests only show that something is wrong, ”the doctor explained in the dpa report.

Now the manufacturers of the test procedures are on the move. You would need to update the databases on which the tests are based.

Infected patients died
Based on the comparatively few cases to date, the US health agency CDC has determined that approximately 40 to 60 percent of the patients infected with Candida auris have died.

However, it is usually not possible to say exactly whether the fungus was actually the cause, because each of them was a seriously ill patient.

According to Kurzai, the yeast, which is resistant to many anti-fungal agents, can only be identified in the laboratory.

"The most important thing is that you recognize the fungus," says the expert, according to dpa. But: "Identification with conventional methods is currently insufficient," writes the NRZMyk on its website.

In addition, there is currently no obligation to report infections with Candida auris. (ad)

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