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)
Madison Sciba '24,