Hospitals across the UK have been hit by a drug-resistant Japanese fungus which has so far infected more than 200 patients.
The potentially deadly superbug has spread to at least 55 hospitals and is particularly dangerous for anyone with a weakened immune system.
Most worryingly, the fungus is resistant to the most commonly prescribed fungicidal drug, fluconazole, and the species has the ability to rapidly evolve to develop resistance.
‘Candida auris’ – which was first identified in the ear of a patient in Japan – is able to live both on the skin and inside the body.
“Large” outbreaks have hit at least three hospitals, with staff carrying out “intensive” disinfection of wards in a bid to tackle the “difficult to control” fungus.
Both NHS Trusts and independent hospitals have been affected by outbreaks.
A biosafety unit at Porton Down, where countermeasures to chemical and biological weapons are developed, is testing variety of disinfectants and antiseptics in an attempt to find a fungicide capable of tackling the pathogen.
No deaths due to the fungus infection have so far been reported.
While the majority of UK cases have been detected on patients carrying the fungus but suffering no symptoms, Public Health England (PHE) said around 50 patients have suffered clinical infections – including 27 patients who developed blood stream infections.
Complications arise when the fungus enters the body or bloodstream during medical treatment, such as the insertion of drips of urinary catheters, or a wound.
Dr Neil Wigglesworth, president of the Infection Prevention Society, said: “The outbreaks reinforce the importance of rigorous infection prevention and control practices to help prevent further occurrences.
“Early intervention through infection prevention will help ensure patient safety as well as protecting vital NHS resources.”
Prolonged hospital outbreaks have also affected India, Pakistan, Venezuela, and Colombia since the fungus was first being identified in 2009.
Courtesy of Sky News