The incidence of fungal infections is increasing at an alarming rate. It is a threat to human health as it kills more people than malaria or cancer.
Professor Neil Gow of the University of Aberdeen said that more than one million people die from fungal infections around the world each year. There are no vaccines yet, pressing the need for new treatments.
‘Most of the fungal infections are less likely to respond to the commonly used anti-fungal drugs, making the infections difficult to treat.’
Doctors in England reported a new strain of fungi causing outbreaks in hospitals. Warnings have been issued regarding Candida auris
- which has caused an outbreak affecting 40 patients in one hospital in south-east England.
In 2009, the infection was first detected in Japan. Since then it has been discovered across Asia and parts of South America.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the yeast infection can enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body, causing serious invasive infections in some patients. The infection does not respond to commonly used antifungal drugs, making infections difficult to treat.
There are more than five million types of fungi, but, three major groups cause a majority of deaths in humans.
- Aspergillus - which affects the lungs
- Cryptococcus - which mainly attacks the brain
- Candida - which infects mucosal membranes including in the mouth and genitals
People with weakened immune systems (HIV patients) are more likely to die from fungal infections.
Every year, more than a million people are dying from fungal infections. But still, fungal infections are not considered a priority. Health experts warned about the need to understand these different types of infections and how to deal with them.