New fungal infection is spreading in Germany
Around eight years ago, a new cause of fungal infections was found in Japan for the first time. In the meantime, the yeast Candida auris is rampant in the USA, Great Britain and India, among others. Several cases have now been registered in Germany. For some groups of people, the fungus is a deadly danger.
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 - including Germany.
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.
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."
Several cases registered in Germany
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. The National Reference Center for Invasive Fungal Infections (NRZMyk) in Jena has already registered three cases this year in 2015.
“However, it can be assumed that the number of cases is higher. There are certainly laboratories that the pathogen has slipped through, ”explained center director Oliver 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.
According to Kurzai, the yeast is not a threat to a healthy person. "However, due to the comparatively few cases so far, there is still no clear risk profile," said the expert.
According to the information, 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)