Covid-19 intensive care units have witnessed a rising incidence of fungal infections. The latest 'superfungus', titled thus for the speed at which it developed drug resistance, to be identified is Candida Auris in Brazil.
As per the research conducted by a group of researchers led by Arnaldo Colombo, head of the Special Mycology Laboratory at the Federal University of Sao Paulo (UNIFESP), the first to be detected with the virus were two covid patients in the same intensive care unit at a hospital in Salvador in the State of Bahia, Northeast Brazil, in December 2020. The study was supported by Sao Paulo Research Foundation, FAPESP and published in the journal of Fungi.
"Nine other C.auris patients have since been diagnosed at the same hospital, some colonized (with the fungus in their organism but not doing harm) and others infected," Arnaldo Colombo said.
Microsatellite typing had revealed that the strains are clonal and belong to the South Asian clade, C.auris. Considering the travel restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the absence of travel history in the infected patients, it is suspected that the species had been introduced several months prior to the first identified case.
Candida Auris is a microorganism with a high rate of drug resistance and is described as a 'super fungus'. It is anticipated that in the near future, over occupancy and limited resources for infection control practices and shortages in hospitals will be a fertile ground for C.auris to spread.
Candida Auris was first reported in Venezuela in 2012. However, the strains identified in Brazil have several peculiarities. The Brazillian strains are phylogenetically related to the South Asian clade and have shown specific microsatellite alleles. These strains had low antifungal MIC and the absence of ERG11 azole resistance-related mutations Y132F and K143R.