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Stalking a Killer Fungus

Superbugs – disease-causing microbes that are resistant to many (or all) antibiotics – are here, and they are already killing people. One such superbug is Candida auris, a multidrug-resistant fungal infection that has resulted in death for up to 70% of those infected since 2009.

SINGAPORE – Warnings of the rise of so-called superbugs – disease-causing microbes that are resistant to many (or all) antibiotics – have been coming thick and fast in recent years. What many people seem not to realize is that superbugs are already here – and they are already killing people. A prime example is Candida auris, a multidrug-resistant fungal infection that is emerging as a serious global health threat.

C.auris was first identified in Japan in 2009, in the ear of a patient who complained of an infection. (Auris is Latin for ear.) Since then, C. auris has been documented as the cause of wound infections, bloodstream infections, ear infections, and respiratory infections in countries across four continents, including India, Kuwait, Pakistan, South Africa, South Korea, and countries in South America.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the fungus infected 13 people from May 2013 to August 2016, four of whom have died. While it remains unclear whether those deaths were due to the C. auris infection or to underlying health conditions, the need to address the scourge of C. auris – which has led to the deaths of up to 70% of those infected – cannot be disputed.

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