Experts have been warning that over-using antibiotics would lead to drug resistance, compromising the effectiveness of medicines that have long been used to deal with infections.
One particular infection called Candida Auris seems to have appeared locations all over the world, including South Africa, the United States, Venezuela, Pakistan and other countries, but not much has been said about it.
The New York Times has reported one case, in which an old man spent 3-months in hospital, eventually dying.
Professor Nelesh Govender from The National Institute for Communicable Diseases says the first case was detected in South Africa as far back 2009. He says 1 700 cases were detected between 2012 and 2016.
At the moment Candida Auris is found in almost 100 hospitals across South Africa so it is a widespread problem. The vast majority of cases have occurred in Gauteng.— Nelesh Govender, Professor - The National Institute for Communicable Diseases
It most commonly occurs among people with compromised immune systems. People who are admitted to hospitals, who are older, new born babies may also be at risk.— Nelesh Govender, Professor - The National Institute for Communicable Diseases
Govender says the infection is more prominent in private sector hospitals. He says while these hospitals have 'excellent;' infection control systems, antibiotics are overused.
We have found specifically that people who are admitted to private sector hospitals are three times at a higher risk of developing a Candida Auris infections because of the current epidemiology and pattern of infection. The longer you are in hospital the more likely you are to acquire this infection.— Nelesh Govender, Professor - The National Institute for Communicable Diseases
He says however, the risk of Candida Auris infection is relatively low.
If you look at 100 000 hospital admissions, Candida Auris is only likely to occur around 10 of those hospital admissions.— Nelesh Govender, Professor - The National Institute for Communicable Diseases
Govender says there needs to be more of a focus on hand hygiene, environmental cleaning and antibiotic stewardship - a concept where professionals make sure that antibiotics are used merely when they are needed.
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This article first appeared on 702 : The deadly fungus found in South African hospitals