You may have read stories lately about people dying from a lethal fungal infection throughout the globe. Now, experts reveal in a study that the cause of this sudden rise of deadly fungal disease is global warming.
Candida Auris was discovered in 2009 in a Japanese patient with an ear infection. The deadly fungus kills anyone who comes in contact with it, and doctors struggled to come up with a direct cause after cases appeared at hospitals throughout Asia, Africa, and South America.
Dr. Arturo Casadevall, the chair of the molecular microbiology and immunology department at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says that the greatest source of confusion came from the timing of the disease. Multiple cases began to develop at roughly the same time among patients who were thousands of miles apart and even on different continents.
Global Warming Emerges as a Cause
Cases of Candida Auris have been recorded in 30 countries so far, and over one-third of patients develop a drug-resistant form of the deadly fungal infection. The disease has yet to overtake the U.S. with only 680 confirmed cases throughout the nation; so far, the most infections have been in New York with 336 patients, followed by 124 in New Jersey and 180 in Illinois, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Casadevall is also the author of a new study published in mBio about Candida Auris. According to the study, similar types of fungus cannot survive in high temperatures, which is why they don’t kill humans. Research suggests that Candida Auris may be an evolved fungus that has grown used to high temperatures due to global warming.
Most fungi grow in damp, moist environments with warm temperatures, but most will die in extreme heat. The average human body temperature is 98 degrees, which effectively allows our immune systems to kill off plenty of fungi and bacteria we come in contact with.
However, as the earth’s temperature continues to rise, fungi and bacteria may start to alter their makeup and become more resistant to heat. This puts everyone’s lives at risk and makes it more difficult for medical scientists to develop drugs that can cure infections before they take lives.
Signs of Candida Auris Infections
The CDC lays out the symptoms to watch out for when it comes to this fungal infection. The people at the greatest risk of catching the infection are already ill with weak immune systems, and the symptoms range depending on what body part is affected.
If you develop fever and chills that won’t go away with antibiotics. A blood test and lab analysis will diagnose the infection, which is treated with antifungal medications. It does not kill everyone who comes in contact with it, but some patients do contract a rare form that is resistant to medication. In these cases, treatment options are limited, but doctors try their best to find a cure.