The World Health Organization says there has been a “significant increase” in fungal infections in hospital patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, as it released its first list of fungi that pose the greatest threat to human health.
This WHO reportoutlining fungal “priority pathogens,” warning that some strains are becoming increasingly resistant and common.
It said only four treatments exist, with few new options in the development pipeline.
According to the World Health Organization, climate change means that the incidence and geographic range of pathogens are expanding, and resistance is due in part to the overuse of antifungal agents in agriculture.
It warns that people most at risk of invasive fungal infections include those with cancer, HIV/AIDS, organ transplants, chronic respiratory disease and primary tuberculosis infections.
WHO’s fungal priority pathogen list contains 19 fungi that represent the greatest public health threats.
The list classifies pathogens into three categories – critical, high and medium priority – based on their potential impact and resistance risk data.
Candida auris, Cryptococcus neoformans, Aspergillus fumigatus and Candida albicans were listed as “critical” priorities.
C. auris is highly resistant and has caused multiple outbreaks in hospitals around the world. It is an emerging fungal infection that mainly causes infection in people with weakened immune systems.
It is a globally distributed pathogenic yeast that causes invasive candidiasis of the blood (candidemia), heart, central nervous system, eyes, bones and internal organs.
The overall risk of death from invasive candidiasis with C. auris is 29% to 53%.
Cryptococcus neoformans is an infection that tends to affect people with immunodeficiencies such as HIV or cancer. It can cause meningitis.
Cryptococcosis, caused by Cryptococcus neoformans, can be life-threatening, with a 41% to 61% risk of death and complications such as blindness and kidney damage.
Aspergillus fumigatus is a common mold that exists widely in people’s homes and outdoor environments. It tends to cause frequent lung problems in people with certain lung problems and can lead to asthma, such as disease, pulmonary fibrosis or noncancerous tumors.
Candida albicans is the main cause of thrush, a common and unpleasant disease. However, in people with weakened immune systems, it can cause a range of serious illnesses, including meningitis and sepsis.
global public health issues
The report outlines clinical trials aimed at reducing morbidity and mortality.
The number of fungal infections and their global spread is likely to expand as climate change The World Health Organization says the rise of international travel and trade.
However, due to the lack of high-quality data on fungal infections, and the lack of attention paid to them, the scope of the threat of fungal diseases and their resistance to treatment is unclear.
WHO is calling on governments and researchers to step up responses to the 19 fungi on the list.
“Emerging from the shadows of the bacterial antimicrobial resistance pandemic, fungal infections are growing and becoming more resistant to treatment as a global public health problem,” said the group’s Dr. Hanan Balkhy.