Deadly fungus on the rise in Hong Kong: ‘almost unstoppable when it strikes’

Hong Kong’s fungal infections have turned up in the city’s public hospitals and retirement homes, the South China Morning Post reports. The umbrella organization of hospitals in Hong Kong calls the outbreak ‘worrying’.

This year the fungus has been diagnosed in 136 people. There were 20 cases in all of 2019.

Worrying

Microbiologist Ferry Hagen has been researching the super fungus for years. Since 2012 there have been regular outbreaks in the world. “Often in countries such as Pakistan and India. But also in the United States“.

The microbiologist says all patients contracted the fungus in hospitals. “There they are treated for underlying suffering and they are given antifungal drugs. But the candida auris survives that.”

A Dutchman

As far as is known, one Dutch person has contracted the fungus so far. “The patient had brought the fungus with him from abroad. We are very alert to these types of cases in our hospitals. We are immediately asked in which countries the person has been and the patient is admitted to an isolation room and treated by hospital staff wearing protective clothing. . “

People in Dutch hospitals have never been infected with the fungus, says Hagen.

Schimmel

People who contract the fungus have a risk of death of between 30 and 60 percent, depending on where the infection is. It is not known how many people died from the effects of the fungus in Hong Kong. “The fungus is deadly because candida auris causes septicemia,” says the microbiologist.

The fungus can currently spread easily in Hong Kong because isolation rooms in hospitals are often occupied due to the corona virus. Patients with candida auris therefore remain in rooms with other patients.

“In the Netherlands, hygiene protocols are many times stricter and the chance that an outbreak will occur in our country is many times smaller than in hospitals in India or Pakistan.”

Super mold

Once there is an outbreak, it can be very difficult to stop. “In London, an entire ward was demolished because the hospital could not control the fungus there. Afterwards, the fungus turned out to be on the ear meters that measured the temperature. They were always not cleaned properly.”

It is a confirmation of how strong the fungus is. “The fungus survives on medical materials. There have even been cases where the fungus has been on a person’s skin for three years.”

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