Diseases: WHO warns of life-threatening fungal diseases

The World Health Organization (WHO) is concerned about 19 pathogenic fungi that experts say are threatening public health.

Diseases: WHO warns of life-threatening fungal diseases

The World Health Organization (WHO) is concerned about 19 pathogenic fungi that experts say are threatening public health. These pathogens would have to be better researched in order to develop treatment options, the WHO reported on Tuesday in Geneva.

Fungal diseases are life-threatening for some people. But they received too little attention. It is unknown how many people are affected. Surveillance needs to be improved, but one cannot wait for figures, the WHO warned. She names the fungal pathogen Candida auris, which mainly affects patients in clinics and is resistant to many active ingredients. It was only discovered in Japan in 2009, but has already spread to more than 50 countries.

"For most fungal pathogens, rapid and sensitive diagnostics do not exist, and those that do exist are not widely available or affordable worldwide," the WHO said. Above all, people with previous illnesses or a limited immune system would easily get fungal infections, which are often recognized late and more and more often cannot be cured with existing medication.

Dangerous Resistance

Fungal diseases are spreading around the world on the one hand due to global warming, which favors pathogens of all kinds, on the other hand due to international trade and the mobility of many people around the world. In addition, pathogens are increasingly developing resistance to the known active ingredients. The WHO is therefore calling on governments and scientific institutions to expand laboratory capacities for diagnosis and monitoring, to invest more in research and development and to conduct more education in order to prevent fungal infections from the outset if possible.

The WHO has divided the 19 fungal pathogens into three groups. Four of these are pathogens that they believe urgently need better research. These pathogens are particularly life-threatening for patients with a weakened immune system: Cryptococcus neoformans, which can cause meningitis, Candida auris, which can affect the central nervous system, organs, bones and eyes, among other things, Aspergillus fumigatus, which can be found in the lungs, and candida albicans. This pathogen is widespread and affects the mucous membranes in the mouth, throat, genital area and intestines, but rarely causes any problems in healthy people. However, it can be life-threatening for immunocompromised people.

WHO 2020 on task of fungal diseases expert group

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