Biochemistry expert explains what you need to know about Candida auris

Biochemistry expert explains what you need to know about Candida auris

New Zealand has reported the detection of a deadly fungal infection that is resistant to conventional treatments. 

The infection, known as Candida auris, has been found to be fatal for approximately one-third of all infected patients, particularly those with weak immune systems.

The Ministry of Health has confirmed a single case of the infection in the country. 

While healthy individuals are not at risk of contracting Candida auris, those with severely compromised immune systems are at risk of potentially fatal consequences.

Candida auris was first identified in Japan in 2009 and has since spread to multiple countries worldwide, including the United States, India, and the United Kingdom.

On Monday, Tova O'Brien spoke to Professor Kurt Krause, a biochemistry expert at Otago University. O'Brien asked Krause if this New Zealand case was inevitable.

"I think the New Zealand case was absolutely inevitable," Krause said.

"Australia started to get cases around 2015, those were written up in a scientific publication in 2017, they’ve had low numbers for years before we have. 

"Most practitioners in New Zealand were thinking it was going to happen, but we just weren't sure when."

For those concerned about Candida auris, O'Brien asked Krause how it impacts healthy people versus those who have a compromised immune system.

"Candida auris is a yeast, it's actually sort of a cousin to a common kind of yeast that all of us carry on our skin called Candida albicans [which] is a common cause of thrush [and] causes diaper rash.

"But Candida auris tends to be very difficult to treat because it's resistant to antibiotics, it's also difficult to identify. People who are hospitalised in intensive care units or in long-term nursing home placements, they are susceptible to this infection, but it doesn't really target healthy people outside of the hospital who aren't sick."

Listen to the full interview between Kurt Krause and Tova above.

You can also download the full interview on the Tova podcast, and listen on the go. 

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