Germs that can resist the drugs designed to fight them is known as antibiotic resistance. Now there is a new kind of resistance to be concerned with; fungal infections that are resistant to treatment. The fungal infection being talked about is Candida auris, which causes infections in the mouth, ears, genitals, wounds, or the bloodstream. Other species of Candida can lead to similar infections, Candida auris is getting global attention because some cases have proved to be resistant to all three classes of medications available to treat fungal infections. The first case reported was in 2009 in Japan, but it has now been found on five continents.
Like yeast and mold, fungi develop resistance to the antifungal medications used to treat them in the same way bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics. Drugs kill most germs, but some resistant germs are left to grow and multiply. Misuse of antibiotics and antifungal medications promotes the spread of these resistant germs. The concern with antibiotic resistance is well-known and widespread. However, resistance to all available antifungal medications “is something we haven’t seen previously,” Doctor Cornelius J. Clancy, chief of infectious diseases at the VA Pittsburgh Health Care System, stated.
All species of Candida can prompt a potentially fatal infection, says Dr. Riina Rautemaa-Richardson, researcher at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester, England, and an author of the study. The danger occurs when the fungal infection enters the bloodstream, leading to sepsis (the body’s overwhelming response to an infection) which can slow blood flow, damage organs, and sometimes cause death. It appears that Candida auris puts people at greater risk of sepsis than other species of Candida, says Richardson. The microscopic spores produced by fungi are present in the soil and air, so most infections begin in the lungs or on the skin. They are mostly harmless, but they can be dangerous for people with weakened immune systems, like AIDS or cancer patients. The infection can spread in medical settings if beds and equipment have been contaminated, though it rarely spreads from patient to patient.