Climate change driving threat of fungal infections in humans

New Delhi: Global rise in temperatures is increasing the threat of fungal infections, which can be fatal to human lives, according to US health officials.

Climate predictions show that temperatures will likely rise by more than 1.5 celsius above the UN mandated pre-industrial levels at some point before 2027.

The health officials state that climate change is “pushing the organisms to adapt to better infect and invade people”, the Telegraph reported.

“Since many of these fungal pathogens typically exist in nature, they’re not as well adapted to human or mammalian body temperatures at 37 degrees centigrade,” Dr Michael Kurilla, a director of the US National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, a department within the National Institutes of Health was quoted as saying.

“But with global warming, they are actually adapting… (it is) becoming much easier for fungi to colonise and infect and invade citizens, as well as other mammalian species,” he added.

Of particular concern is Candida auris, which has a fatality rate between 30 and 72 per cent, the report said.

First identified in Japan in 2009, the pathogen is rapidly spreading around the world, with about 30 countries reporting on it. It is also difficult to detect and even harder to treat.

Candida auris exploits weakened immune systems and has emerged globally as a multidrug-resistant health care-associated fungal pathogen, which has led to outbreaks in hospitals across the world.

In March, the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in a study published in the medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine, reported that clinical cases of Candida auris increased steadily between 2019 and 2021.

Experts saw an especially dramatic increase during that time period: From 2019 to 2021, cases increased from 476 to 1,471.

“It’s coming to be a perfect storm,” Dr Prabhavathi Fernandes, a World Health Organization advisor was quoted as saying.

“You’re having increasing resistance rates, increasing immunosuppressed patients worldwide, and you have this bug which is now adapting to higher temperatures.”

According to experts a surge in conditions including diabetes, heart disease and even long Covid will also suit the fungi, the report said.

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