Fungal infections and growing antibiotic resistance

GLENN ELLIS | 7/30/2018, 4:38 p.m.
Sadly, the way we’ve been using antibiotics is helping to create new drug-resistant “superbugs.
Packaged medication Stock photo

One common superbug increasingly seen outside hospitals is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus – or MRSA. It’s is a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to several antibiotics. In the general, MRSA most often causes skin infections. In some cases, it causes pneumonia – a lung infection – and other issues. If left untreated, MRSA infections can become severe and cause sepsis - a life-threatening reaction to severe infection in the body.

Although antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections are a widely recognized public health threat, much less is known about drug-resistant fungal infections. Unlike garden-variety yeast infections, this one causes serious bloodstream infections, spreads easily from person to person in health care settings, and survives for months on skin and for weeks on bed rails, chairs and other hospital equipment.

The fungal infection in question is Candida auris, which can cause infections in the mouth, genitals, ears, wounds or – worst of all – the bloodstream. While other species of Candida can lead to the same kinds of infections, Candida auris is getting worldwide attention because, according to a study in the February 2017 journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, some cases have proved to be resistant to all three classes of drugs available to treat fungal infections.

The real danger occurs when the fungal infection enters the bloodstream, leading to sepsis - the body’s overwhelming response to an infection, which can slow blood flow, damage organs and sometimes cause death.

The best way to prevent bacterial infections is by washing your hands frequently with soap and water. It’s also a good idea not to share personal items such as towels or razors. And use antibiotics only as directed.

Remember, I’m not a doctor. I just sound like one.

Take good care of yourself and live the best life possible!

The information included in this column is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Glenn Ellis is a Health Advocacy Communications Specialist and is available through http://www.glennellis.com.