logoThe People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 1192: How a Scary Fungus Is Threatening the World

Candida auris was virtually unknown a decade ago. Now it has acquired resistance to many antifungal medications and has caused infections around the world.
Matt Richtel, author of An Elegant Defense
Current time

How a Scary Fungus Is Threatening the World

0% played0% buffered
Duration

You may have heard about antibiotic-resistant bacteria. They can greatly complicate the treatment of infections. But have you ever heard of antifungal-resistant fungus? Infectious disease experts knew nothing about a scary fungus, Candida auris, less than two decades ago. It has acquired resistance to a number of potent antifungal medications. Consequently, it now poses threats of hard-to-treat infections in many corners of the globe.

What Is Candida Auris?

New York Times journalist Matt Richtel was looking for a suitable topic for a series of in-depth reports. When he asked the experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they suggested he investigate Candida auris.  They were more worried about this scary fungus than about most other health problems, and when you listen to his story, we think you will be, too!

Candida auris was first identified in the ear of a Japanese woman about a decade ago. It wasn’t making her sick. Nonetheless, before long infectious disease experts started finding people who were very sick with this fungus. Because several strains have developed resistance to multiple common antifungal medications, the infections can be quite difficult to treat.

Who Is at High Risk?

People whose immune systems are compromised seem to be at highest risk. That includes the elderly, especially those living in nursing homes. However, millions of people taking medications that can suppress their immune systems are also in danger. These are drugs used to treat autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease or plaque psoriasis. What actions do we need to take to protect them? With the development of antifungal resistance, simple surgical procedures could pose life-threatening risks.

This Week’s Guest:

Matt Richtel is a reporter at the New York Times. He won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting with a series of articles he expanded into his first nonfiction book. Ultimately, it became a New York Times bestseller, A Deadly Wandering.
Matt Richtel’s latest book is An Elegant Defense: The Extraordinary New Science of the Immune System: A Tale in Four Lives. His website is www.MattRichtel.com/ You can find his series on Candida auris at The New York Times.

The photograph of Matt Richtel is by Simona Deac.

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

Buy the CD

Download the mp3

Rate this article
star-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-empty
4.1- 83 ratings
About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
Tired of the ads on our website?

Now you can browse our website completely ad-free for just $5 / month. Stay up to date on breaking health news and support our work without the distraction of advertisements.

Browse our website ad-free
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.

Showing 3 comments
Comments
Add your comment

I have a normal fungal infection that has become drug resistant. Could this infection turn into Candida Auris if I were to have surgery? Can anyone answer that? I have used all of the drugs they have given me, and the rash does not go away.

thanks for this interview. The problem with the fungus and overall infection control is obviously more important and dangerous than known in the public’s awareness. His research certainly points out the lack of high quality infection control within the care facilities for disabled and elderly individuals. With the rising cost of that care, how likely is the problem to be effectively addressed? While I understand the importance of foods raised without chemicals, I am also aware of the increased cost, sometimes prohibitive, of organic meats and other foods which makes me wonder is such consumption possible to the elderly on limited income?

Hi Terry and Joe,

Thanks for the program about candida auris.

I just did a cursory search at an online medical website and found several articles about the effectiveness of plant microbials against many candida species. Also, the disinfection capacity of essential oils like thymol and carvacrol and many others are well-known and could clean up our health care facilities.

The post WWII emphasis on antibiotic abuse and chemical anti-fungals is an unqualified disaster for the environment and for human beings as well. They are weakening our immune systems from their toxicity and creating super bugs like candida auris.

Returning to the use of botanicals is one part of the strategy to avoid the apocalyptic predictions made by Matt Richtel. The glaring absence of this knowledge in his presentation is shocking especially since this information is so readily available. Please address these plants and their effectiveness on the PP soon.

* Be nice, and don't over share. View comment policy^