Candida auris: Resistant yeast found in patient in Austria
In Austria, infection with the yeast Candida auris has been detected for the first time. According to health experts, the fungus poses a "serious global health threat" due to its resistance to conventional antifungal agents.
Dangerous mushroom on the rise
In the fall of 2016, the US health agency CDC reported for the first time about a new fungal disease that in some cases is fatal. The yeast Candida auris was therefore linked to several deaths in the United States. The fungus was first detected in 2009 in a 70-year-old female patient in Japan as a causative agent of otomycosis (fungal disease of the external auditory canal). But it is now rampant in numerous other countries. According to the CDC, it now represents a “serious global health threat”. Now Candida auris has also been detected in Austria for the first time.
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 yeast Candida auris gets into the bloodstream, the infection that often occurs in hospitals and other health care facilities can be life-threatening.
Difficult to identify
Since its first appearance, Candida auris has infected hundreds of people worldwide, mainly in hospitals.
The yeast populates the ears and respiratory tract, but it can also cause serious infections or sepsis (blood poisoning) in the blood or wounds.
Candida auris is a "serious global health threat", according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
The authority justifies this mainly because the fungus is difficult to identify in the usual routine examinations and is difficult to treat due to the widespread resistance.
It is also dangerous because of outbreaks, especially in health facilities.
People with weakened immune systems are at risk
According to health experts, 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.
Based on the comparatively few cases to date, the CDC has determined that around 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 medical experts, the fungus is not a threat to a healthy person, but last year German and Austrian experts recommended increased attention in a statement related to Candida auris. At the same time, they warned against unnecessary scaremongering.
Candida auris detected for the first time in Austria
In January 2018, Candida auris was detected for the first time in Austria by the Agency for Health and Food Security (AGES).
According to a statement, a patient in Styria visited a resident doctor because of long-lasting ear canal infection, who sent an ear smear to AGES for the purpose of testing for microbial pathogens.
According to the information, the patient was treated successfully. The first Austrian description is published in the American journal "Emerging Infectious Diseases".
Europe-wide risk for hospital patients
According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), a total of 620 cases in seven countries have been reported in Europe since 2013 (Spain, Great Britain, Germany, France, Belgium, Norway, Austria).
According to the information, three quarters of these cases were harmless settlements; in a quarter, however, the pathogen caused blood poisoning or other infections.
Probably also due to improved diagnostic methods, significantly more cases were identified in 2016 and 2017 than in the years before.
In April 2018, the ECDC described the occurrence of Candida auris as a Europe-wide risk for hospital patients.
This is justified by the tendency of this new pathogen to cause outbreaks in hospitals, by its resistance to conventional fungal agents and by laboratory diagnostic problems.
Candida auris is passed from person to person and through contaminated surfaces. The transmission is most likely a smear infection. Contamination via the air, as is often the case with cold viruses, can be ruled out based on current knowledge. (ad)