Life-threatening infections due to fungi could soon break out due to rapid climate change. Usually, humans have incredible resistance to various fungal infections since fungi can’t survive in warm conditions, stated Dr. Casadevall of John Hopkins BSPH in Baltimore.
However, climate change is now increasing their tolerance levels. New fungi Candida Auris is cited as an example of this. These fungi first appeared in 2009 affecting people from 3 continents simultaneously. They all had different climates, populations, and regions. 30% of all who contract this infection die, as per CDC data. So far, there are over 685 confirmed infections & 30 probable infections in the US.
Now, C. Auris is capable of thriving inside humans due to climate change. Since humans are quite warm-blood, their temperatures can keep them out effectively. Fungi reproduction and growth isn’t possible at human body temperature levels. Most fungal infections among humans are minor irritants like athlete’s foot. However, cold-blooded animals and plants are vulnerable to fungal infections.
New research shows that fungi can accustom themselves to warm temperatures quickly. If fungus strains are taken in a lab, with gradually increasing temperature levels, they can survive and reproduce even in high temperatures. C. Auris was compared with other fungal strains in this study. It was found that C. Auris could grow in warmer temperatures better than most fungi. It can adapt quickly, which is why humans are being increasingly infected by it.
Auris’ source remains unknown. It is speculated that these turned tolerant of high temperatures while being among bird populations due to global warming, which was then passed to people from rural areas. 2 reasons make this emergence all the more troubling. The first is that C. Auris infections now possess immunity against commonly used antifungal drugs. The second is that when left untreated, fungal infections can ravage every part of the human body and lead to death.
So far, only already sick patients in hospitals who had compromised immunity have been infected. Once nursing homes and hospitals are infected, it is near-impossible to wipe them out.
Auris fungal strain’s temperature tolerance abilities are quite alarming. Dr. Adaljia stated that treating this was a tough task. Casadevall holds that global fungal infection monitoring and drug development has to be stepped up immediately.
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