Candida auris: The Next Pandemic?
By Jenevieve Monroe
Earlier this week, the Center for Disease Control released a statement concerning an emerging fungus described to be a “serious global health threat.” Known as Candida auris or C. auris, the fungus is reported to be multidrug resistant, highly infectious, and difficult to test for in standard laboratories. C. auris is a yeast that doesn’t always cause symptoms; however, the fungus can lead to blood infections, wound infections, and ear infections in patients with weak immune systems.
In less than a year, infections of this yeast have nearly doubled across the United States (CDC). The CDC has documented a mortality rate in the U.S. to be between 30 to 60 percent in many immunocompromised patients. Similar rates have been documented on a global level. According to Ronald Rhodes, a clinical laboratory science professor at Texas State University, the fungus has spread to over 30 different countries. The European Center for Disease Control has been monitoring their cases closely; over the span of 2013 to 2022, they have conducted several surveys to determine the control efforts and preparedness of their healthcare facilities. The study showed that C. auris has been steadily increasing in the EU/EEA since 2020, leaving many health facilities unprepared in controlling outbreaks. Germany and Denmark were countries that opposed this trend and were able to detain the fungus from further transmission. Overall, the study emphasizes a need for continued research of antimicrobial transmissions and multidrug resistant fungal infections.
The transmission rates of C. auris have alarmed many global health agencies. As we still experience the COVID-19 Pandemic, international economies are shifting their fear towards a potentially new threat. Germany’s largest bank, known as Deutsche Bank, dropped in shares by 11 percent yesterday (WSJ). The credit portfolio manager of Deutsche Bank commented on the sudden withdrawal of investors, saying “People want to avoid anything that could come under focus.” The Wall Street Journal has speculated that the German stock market has stumbled due to global contagion fears. Since Deutsche Bank is vital to both Wall Street and the global economy, investors are left wondering whether their investments are safe anymore.
According to the International Monetary Fund, some key warning signs that an epidemic may negatively impact an economy are: the disruption of product and supply chains, the decline in consumer spending and investment, increase in healthcare costs, and the disruption of financial markets. One example of this disruption was during the SARs outbreak; stock markets in countries affected by the virus experienced significant declines “due to fears of the economic impact” (IMF).
Although concerns are being voiced across the United States, statistics on local medical cases are limited. The Saint Mary’s Health and Wellness Center has yet to report on the emerging pathogen, but ABC 7 Bay Area news reporter Mary Kekatos has covered some key points regarding the spread. According to Kekatos, “there’s not much that can be done on an individual level to stop the spread of the fungus, but the experts recommend avoiding patients with C. auris infections and that people practice proper hand hygiene when visiting at-risk populations.”
Stay tuned for more updates on this developing story.
General Information about Candida auris | Candida auris | Fungal Diseases | CDC
Why Deadly Candida Auris Fungus Is Spreading So Fast Across the U.S. (msn.com)
Eurosurveillance | Increasing number of cases and outbreaks caused by Candida auris in the EU/EEA, 2020 to 2021
The Economic Risks and Impacts of Epidemics - IMF F&D Magazine - June 2018 | Volume 55 | Number 2
What is Candida auris? Potentially deadly fungus spreading in the US: Everything you need to know - ABC7 San Francisco (abc7news.com)
By Jenevieve Monroe
Saint Mary’s class of ‘24 McKenzie Minto takes on a new role as a dog agility judge. Minto is now a UKI Approved Judge, whose role is to score a dog and handler on their performance within a presented obstacle course. Part of the judge’s responsibility is to design the course that handlers and dogs will be tested on; these courses must be both appropriately challenging and safe for competitors. This includes mindfulness of tripping hazards, sharpness of obstacle turns, and momentum of the participants. Opportunities to utilize this skillset are just around the corner. “I was pleasantly surprised to have received a handful of invitations right away,” says Minto. One of these offers came from a tournament in North Carolina. “This is quite an honor considering that I have not yet established a reputation as a judge, so these invitations are purely based on my standing as a competitor.”
As a full-time student attending Saint Mary’s, Minto has learned to navigate life both on and off the course. She often competes on weekends, which means her free time is spent working diligently on school assignments and running through training exercises with her dog Safari. “Course designing also takes a decent amount of time,” says Minto. “I am sure to prioritize time for that and treat it as if it is a school assignment with a deadline.”
Minto is looking forward to embracing this new challenge of judging and growing alongside it as a handler, “I genuinely believe that being a judge will inform me as a competitor; it will help me understand dogs’ lines better, spot common off-course hazards, stay informed on course trends, and recognize the skills that get tested on specific layouts of obstacles.”
She admits that she is a bit nervous to be delving into something she's never done before, but Minto knows the agility community will be patient and supportive as she paves her new path. Ultimately, she is looking forward to seeing herself progress throughout the year and being able to reflect on a newly honed skill set.
Over the last decade of competing in dog agility, Minto has represented the United States at international events on six occasions and obtained podium placements at National level competitions. This coming May, she will be traveling to the Netherlands with her dog to represent Team USA at the World Agility Open.
One of the hardest parts of Minto's journey was obtaining a mentor judge who was willing to supervise her through her first trials, help her with course design, and answer all her questions. Since she is one of the youngest judges to be approved, it was important for her to find a mentor who was well experienced so that she could learn the best judging practices. According to Minto, “Agility is a rapidly evolving sport, and it is becoming increasingly important to handlers that judges are actively involved and in-tune with the changing trends.” Due to her previous accolades as a competitor, she was able to efficiently connect with someone for mentorship.
For anyone interested in following this career path, Minto advises “to have a deep understanding of the sport” and “compete for at least a few years before progressing into the role of a judge.” Saint Mary’s has aided her career in the agility world by establishing the Intercollegiate Dog Agility Club; Minto has expressed her appreciation for the college, saying “Saint Mary’s has been an enthusiastic trailblazer…[being] one of about 5 colleges across the country to have dog agility as a club sport.” She is grateful for the opportunity to represent our school and looks forward to her career ahead.
Ryan Ford '23,