The presence of the new deadly fungus Candida auris (or C.auris) has not been detected in clinical practice in India yet, a doctor said here. First discovered in 2009, C.auris is an emerging fungus that presents a serious global health threat, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
It is often multidrug-resistant, difficult to identify with standard laboratory methods, and it can be misidentified in labs without specific technology. It has also caused outbreaks in healthcare settings.
A NYT report on Monday showed that over the last five years, C.auris has hit a neonatal unit in Venezuela, swept through a hospital in Spain, forced a prestigious British medical centre to shut down its intensive care unit, and taken root in India, Pakistan and South Africa.
It has also spread to the US.
However, Tarun Sahni, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, told IANS: “We have not seen the fungus yet in clinical practice in India.”
Patients who have low immunity are at higher risk of contracting this infection because the fungus can penetrate into their body and go into the blood.
“People have various types of fungus in their body and also in surroundings. C.auris is also a type of fungus. It can cause candidiasis (a fungal infection) in humans,” Sahni added.
“When this infection becomes invasive, which means that when it enters the bloodstream, it can affect the internal organs of the body.”
C.auris was found to cause bloodstream infections and even death, particularly in hospital and nursing home patients with serious medical problems, in more than a dozen countries. More than one in three patients with invasive C.auris infection (for example, an infection that affects the blood, heart, or brain) die, the US CDC said.
“Hospitals invariably have patients with low immunity, so the prevalence of this infection will be more in hospitals. Also, hospital-acquired infection is a well established entity everywhere in the world and not just limited to India,” Sahni said.
People who get invasive Candida infections are often already sick from other medical conditions, so it can be difficult to know if you have a C.auris infection.
The most common symptoms of invasive Candida infection are fever and chills that do not improve after antibiotic treatment for a suspected bacterial infection.
“When a new kind of infection emerges, existing drugs may not be strong enough to deal with it so from that point of view our precautions for prevention have to be multiplied,” Sahni said while adding it is imperative that standard anti-infection measures should be adhered to and enforced cross all hospitals.
“Keeping the wound clean, washing hands before seeing patients, prescribing rational antibiotic therapy and regular antiseptic practises should be enforced in ICUs and wards, especially where low-immunity patients like transplant recipients, are present,” he added.