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WHO publishes first ever list of fungal infections that pose ‘major threat’

The World Health Organization has published its first ever list of lethal fungal infections that represent a threat to public health.

Experts have noticed an increase in deadly fungal disease, with drug-resistant bacterial infections now responsible for roughly 1.27 million deaths every year.

“Fungal pathogens are a major threat to public health as they are becoming increasingly common and resistant to treatment,” WHO said.

The types of fungal infections listed often affect severely ill patients and those with significant underlying problems with their immune system, including people with cancer, HIV or AIDs, organ transplants, chronic respiratory disease or tuberculosis.

“Emerging from the shadows of the bacterial antimicrobial resistance pandemic, fungal infections are growing, and are ever more resistant to treatments, becoming a public health concern worldwide,” said Dr Hanan Balkhy, WHO assistant director-general, antimicrobial resistance, said.

In its new report, the WHO warns that there is only limited access to quality diagnostics and treatment for these developing fungal diseases. Medicines are often unavailable in low and middle income countries, leading to increased deaths among these populations.

One deadly fungal pathogen, Candida auris, which is resistant to multiple drugs, is particularly difficult to eradicate from hospitals - even with intensive infection prevention measures, the WHO said.

This means hospital wards often have to be shut down for prolonged periods of time when Candida auris is detected.

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Source: The Independent, 26 October 2022


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