Climate Change Helps Dangerous Fungi Better ‘Infect and Invade’ Humans

    Fungal pathogens have affected humans for a long time, but the threat they pose is increasing due to global warming

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    Climate change is accelerating the spread of dangerous fungi, pushing organisms to adapt to better “infect and invade” people. Although fungal pathogens have affected humans for a long time, the threat is increasing due to global warming.

    Candida auris, which has a mortality rate of between 30 and 72%, is of particular concern

    The warning comes as Asia swelters in a record-breaking heatwave, while scientists warn that temperatures will likely rise more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2027, a key threshold that is considered a breaking point irreversible inflection.

    Since many of these fungal pathogens normally exist in nature, they are not as well adapted to human or mammalian body temperatures of 37°C. Of particular concern is Candida auris, which has a mortality rate between 30% and 72%.

    First identified in Japan in 2009, it has since been detected in more than 30 countries. Thus, Britain reported 295 cases between 2013 and 2020 and the US has reported at least 7,413 infections. What seems especially devastating is the impact on individual patients, identifying and treating the fungus can take more than 18 months.

    Cases doubled in 2021

    Candida auris is also incredibly difficult to kill once it takes up residence on bedding and other surfaces, which has led to outbreaks in hospitals around the world. The fungus also takes advantage of weakened immune systems and is highly resistant to currently available drugs.

    The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently stated that it is considered an “urgent” threat, with cases nearly doubling in 2021 and, in some areas, most cases are resistant to, at least one antifungal treatment. Resistance rates are increasing, increasing the number of immunocompromised patients around the world… and now it is adapting to higher temperatures. On the other hand, an increase in conditions including diabetes, heart disease and even prolonged Covid-19 will also accommodate fungi being more susceptible to these nosocomial fungal infections.

    In my view, there is not enough research being done for new antimicrobials, specifically to treat Candida auris and other fungal infections, despite the obvious risks, we should not be reliant on vaccines to stop epidemics, at a time when that we have therapy and a quick and efficient diagnosis.

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