Why a mysterious fungus could herald a dangerous era in drug-resistant infections

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Dr. Shawn Lockhart, a fungal disease expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, holding a microscope slide with inactive Candida auris collected from an American patient. Image: Melissa Golden/New York Times

A fungus called Candida auris preys on people with weakened immune systems, and it is quietly spreading across the globe. Over the last five years, it has hit a neonatal unit in Venezuela, swept through a hospital in Spain, forced a prestigious British medical center to shut down its intensive care unit, and taken root in India, Pakistan and South Africa.

Recently C. auris reached New York, New Jersey and Illinois, leading the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to add it to a list of germs deemed “urgent threats.”

Scientists say that unless more effective new medicines are developed and unnecessary use of antimicrobial drugs is sharply curbed, risk will spread to healthier populations. A study the British government funded projects that if policies are not put in place to slow the rise of drug resistance, 10 million people could die worldwide of all such infections in 2050.

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“It is a creature from the black lagoon,” said Dr. Tom Chiller, who heads the fungal branch at the C.D.C., which is spearheading a global detective effort to find treatments and stop the spread. “It bubbled up and now it is everywhere.”

Read full, original post: A Mysterious Infection, Spanning the Globe in a Climate of Secrecy

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