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News of a deadly pathogen that poses a serious risk to health is flooding the media today. Candida auris is another member of the Candida yeast family, the most infamous member being the more familiar Candida albicans.
Both medical and CAM practitioners will be aware of how challenging it can be to rebalance a yeast overgrowth, but C. albicans (see Probiotics Learning Lab for more glossary terms) infections are not generally considered to be life-threatening. Candida yeasts are typically known to be opportunistic, adaptable and often resistant to treatment, however, and this new strain of Candida appears to have evolved to become a super-pathogen capable of resisting most antifungal drugs commonly used to treat Candida infections, including fluconazole, amphotericin B and caspofungin.
C. auris is difficult to identify using standard laboratory methods, and infections can be advanced before a definitive diagnosis can be made as symptoms of infection are consistent with other types of less serious fungal infection. Health authorities are now concerned that many cases may go undiagnosed.
As it has the ability to affect the urinary and respiratory tract and to enter the bloodstream, causing organ failure, this has led to an increasing number of fatalities from C. auris infections and this deadly yeast is becoming a global health concern. Infections have been identified in the United Kingdom, South Korea, India, South Africa, Kuwait, Colombia, Venezuela, Pakistan, and a disturbingly high number of those affected - over 60 per cent - have died.
It is believed that the deadly fungus can be passed on by person-to-person contact, via open wounds, or even from contaminated surfaces. More research needs to be done to fully ascertain the risks but it’s believed that C. auris posesthe greatest risk to hospitalized patients with diabetes or in intensive care; those with large vein catheters, and those who are in poor health and taking antibiotics.
Whilst this news is very concerning, health authorities stressed that the infection is still considered to be very rare; however, they are urging health professionals to be on the lookout for new cases.
For more information about Candida infections, see our FAQ: Which probiotics are best for Candida?
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