Fully occupied intensive care units (ICUs). Physically and mentally exhausted health workers. Chaotically overcrowded hospitals. These and similar problems posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil have created ideal conditions for the emergence of Candida auris, a microorganism some are calling a “superfungus” because of the speed with which it has developed drug resistance.
The first two cases were confirmed in December 2020 at a hospital in Salvador (state of Bahia, Northeast Brazil), and are described in the Journal of Fungi by a group of researchers led by Arnaldo Colombo, head of the Special Mycology Laboratory at the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP). The study was supported by São Paulo Research Foundation – FAPESP.
“Nine other C. auris patients have since been diagnosed at the same hospital, some colonized [with the fungus in their organism but not doing harm] and others infected,” Colombo told. “No other cases have been reported in Brazil, but there are grounds for concern. We’re monitoring the evolutionary characteristics of C. auris isolates from patients at the hospital in Salvador, and we’ve already found samples with reduced sensitivity to fluconazole and echinocandins. The latter belong to the main class of drugs used to treat invasive candidiasis.”
Except for C. auris, fungi of the genus Candida are part of the human gut microbiota and cause problems only when there are imbalances in the organism, Colombo explained. These include infections such as vaginal yeast infection and thrush (oral candidiasis), often caused by C. albicans.
Read more at São Paulo Research Foundation – FAPESP