Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Japanese Fungus !

A tenacious fungal infection made headlines in a nasty way.

Candida auris has "developed some resistance to the drug doctors normally use against it" according to the BBC (link)

Reportedly nobody in the UK has died from this infection.

But it's causing huge trouble: because the BBC labeled it a:
Japanese fungus

Why's this fungus labeled Japanese?
Is it reasonable to scare the world about Japan?
Can a potentially deadly fungus hinder the 2020 Tokyo Olympics?
Negative publicity harms efforts marketing Japan.

Japanese medical practitioners in 2009 first described the fungus:
Satoh, K., et al., Candida auris sp. nov., a novel ascomycetous yeast isolated from the external ear canal of an inpatient in a Japanese hospital. Microbiol Immunol, 2009. 53(1): p. 41-4.

But the earliest known strain of Candida auris dates to 1996 in South Korea (the 1996 patient recovered while two later Korean cases described in the same study died):
Lee, W.G., et al., First three reported cases of nosocomial fungemia caused by Candida auris. J Clin Microbiol, 2011. 49(9): p. 3139-42.

Perhaps it's a
Korean fungus ?

Infections have been reported in the United States (predominantly in New York state), Canada, India, Pakistan, Japan, South Korea, Venezuela, Columbia, Israel, Oman, Kuwait, Kenya, South Africa, Norway, Germany, and Spain, as well as the UK. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states "Because identification of C. auris requires specialized laboratory methods, infections likely have occurred in other countries but have not been identified or reported."

The CDC (link) notes that "C. auris has emerged independently in multiple regions at roughly the same time."

Exceptional hospital hygiene is very important. How much should we worry? Should we stay away from the above nations, or especially avoid Japan?
No - anyhow don't change your travel plans due to this fungus.
There are many worse dangers, e.g. from ticks or mosquito bites.

National governments might pressure medical researchers to avoid publication if such findings become a national problem or an economic liability. Negative media can quickly become bad for us all when public health problems are misreported.

This BBC scare headline is bad journalism.