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Fungal infections worldwide are becoming resistant to drugs and more deadly

Multidrug-resistant Candida auris can cause serious infections among patients in hospitals and other group medical care settings. Science Photo Library via Getty

Fungal infections worldwide are becoming resistant to drugs and more deadly

Multidrug-resistant Candida auris can cause serious infections among patients in hospitals and other group medical care settings. Science Photo Library via Getty

Fungal infections worldwide are becoming resistant to drugs and more deadly

Multidrug-resistant Candida auris can cause serious infections among patients in hospitals and other group medical care settings. Science Photo Library via Getty

Fungal infections worldwide are becoming resistant to drugs and more deadly

Multidrug-resistant Candida auris can cause serious infections among patients in hospitals and other group medical care settings. Science Photo Library via Getty

Research data shows that risk factors include recent surgery, diabetes and broad-spectrum antibiotic and antifungal use. People who are immuno-compromised are at greater risk than those with healthy immune systems.

Multidrug-resistant Candida auris can cause serious infections among patients in hospitals and other group medical care settings. Science Photo Library via Getty

Rodney E. Rohde, Texas State University

Say “fungus” and most people in the world would probably visualize a mushroom.

But this fascinating and beautiful group of microbes has offered the world more than just foods like edible mushrooms. Fungi are also a source of antibiotics – for example, penicillin from Penicillium – as well as the yeasts and other fermentation agents that make bread rise, give cheese its flavor and put the alcohol in wine and beer.

Many people may also not realize that some fungi can cause disease. However, athlete’s foot, thrush, ringworm and other ailments are caused by fungi, and some are serious risks to health and life. That’s why the rise of antifungal resistance is a problem that needs more widespread attention – one equal to the better-recognized crises of multidrug-resistant microbes like the bacteria that cause tuberculosis.

I’ve worked in public health and medical laboratories for over three decades, specializing in public health and clinical microbiology, antimicrobial resistance and accurate science communication and health literacy. I’ve been paying close attention to the growing resistance of a pathogenic fungus called Candida auris to limited and commonly used anti-fungal agents. Since fungi have traditionally not caused major diseases, the emergence of drug-resistant fungi that can cause serious illness rarely receives funding for medical research.

But the facts suggest that this needs to change.

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