In Germany, infection with Candida auris is increasing. But what is the danger posed by the yeast fungus and what are the symptoms of an infection with the pathogen?
Munich – How dangerous is Candida auris? The fungal disease is causing concern in medical circles. At the beginning of the year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had already warned of diseases caused by the yeast fungus after the jump in U.S. health care facilities. In the meantime, cases have also been reported in Italy, England and Spain. In Germany, experts are concerned about the increase in infections with Candida auris in Germany and recommend mandatory reporting of yeast infections.
What is Candida Auris
Candida auris is a yeast fungus that was first detected in Japan in 2009 in the external auditory canal of a 70-year-old patient. The name of the yeast fungus can also be traced back to the place where it was found, as Auris is the Latin Latin word for ear. At about the same time, there were also proven diseases with the fungus in other regions of the world, which experts cannot explain to this day.
"Now there is still time to introduce such a reporting obligation, we should not let this opportunity slip away," urges Dr. Alexander Aldejohann from the Institute of Hygiene and Microbiology in Würzburg. A recent analysis in the "Deutsches Ärzteblatt" also sees an urgent need for action due to the significant increase in order to be able to better observe the increasing cases of the fungal pathogen. "It is inevitable that Candida auris will also spread in Germany," said Oliver Kurzai of the University of Würzburg, head of the National Reference Center for Invasive Fungal Infections, at Der Spiegel abouta possible spread of the fungal disease.
Significant increase in fungal disease: how dangerous is Candida auris?
But how dangerous is Candida auris? In Germany, there have been twelve reported infections with the fungal pathogen in each of the past two years. Since 2015, there have been a total of 43 cases of the pathogen in Germany. In 16 of these cases, the fungal infection was so severe that treatment was necessary. In eight of these cases, the fungus had already penetrated the bloodstream.
For a healthy person, Candida auris does not pose a threat.
Prof. Dr. Oliver Kurzai, Institute of Hygiene and Microbiology in Würzburg
For healthy people, the yeast fungus, as long as it does not enter the bloodstream, usually does not pose a great danger, even if there is an infestation with the fungal pathogen. However, Candida auris can be dangerous to people with a weakened immune system due to possible pre-existing conditions or patients in intensive care units.
What diseases can the fungal pathogen Candida auris?
Among other things, when the fungal pathogen penetrates into the bloodstream, Candida auris can attack the central nervous system, organs, bones and eyes. In addition, a disease with the yeast fungus can trigger sepsis. Blood poisoning is one of those medical emergencies that should be treated immediately, as every untreated hour increases the risk of death by seven percent.
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"Our experience shows that any infection with Candida auris is difficult to treat and potentially life-threatening for patients," microbiologist Alexander Aldejohann told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND). As the WHO writes, the probability of dying after an infestation of internal organs is between 29 and 53 percent. About 30 percent of all infections in which Candida auris enters the body are fatal.
Yeast infection: What are the symptoms of Candida auris?
The most common symptoms of Candida auris include high fever and chills. Other possible symptoms of the fungal disease include general malaise, dry mouth, burning and taste disturbances. An infection with the resistant yeast fungus may be manifested by redness and a whitish, wipeable coating. The underlying mucous membrane is reddened and can often bleed slightly after removal of the plaque.
- Candida Auris: What are the symptoms of the resistant yeast fungus?
- Possible other symptoms of Candid auris?
- General malaise
- Taste disorders
Resistant yeast fungus: How do you get infected with Candida auris?
But how do you get infected with Candida auris? Infection with the fungal pathogen can occur from person to person. The infection can also be passed on via contaminated surfaces where the pathogen can persist for months.
Transmission most likely takes place via a smear infection. Aerosols, as in the case of the coronavirus, do not play a role in an infection. Nevertheless, the yeast fungus proves to be a resistant pathogen, as some drugs against fungal infestation (antifungal agents) or various disinfectants cannot do anything to combat the stubborn yeast fungus.
Experts warn of increasing infections of the resistant fungal pathogen Candida auris in Germany. (Illustration) © Kateryna Kon / imago
However, as mentioned earlier, there is little to no cause for concern for the general population. In most of the confirmed cases, there was a so-called "colonization". This means that although the fungus was detected on some part of the body, it did not require any treatment.
Yeast is a "global health threat": What does the Candida auris do?
The World Health Organization has also been monitoring the spread for some time. The WHO's definition of what Candida auris does is: "A pathogenic yeast spread worldwide that can cause invasive candidiasis in the blood, heart, central nervous system, eyes, bones and internal organs. Experts classify the pathogen as an "urgent threat".
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S. classified Candida auris as a "serious global health threat" as early as 2019 in the shadow of Corona. This is also because the fungus cannot always be reliably identified during routine examinations and is difficult to treat due to widespread resistance.