No Cure Yet

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Taylor Chapman

Andrew Chow ’19 believes that more regulation on antibiotic prescription is essential for fighting the growth of super-bugs, “Oversubscribing just speeds up the process of creating a new line of super-bugs.”

For years, super-bugs have been the concern of medical practitioners and public safety policymakers. Candida auris, a drug resistant fungal bacteria, was first identified in Japan from a man’s ear-infection in 2009. It has since spread globally and is now in the United States. As of today, there have been 643 candida auris cases reported in the U.S, according to ‘The Center for Disease Control’ (CDC).

Candida auris infects the patient, causing them to fall ill with a disease called candidiasis where the invasive bacteria attacks the patient’s bloodstream, central nervous system, kidneys, liver, bones, muscles, joints, spleen, or eyes. Candida aurus is one of the few bacteria within the candida genus capable of inflicting disease, making it a unique fungus. Like most super-bugs, it will not infect just anyone. Targeting those with already weakened immune systems, patients who have the highest chance of being infected are those who are already sick and living inside a hospital.

In the case of a patient who died at Mount Sinai hospital after ninety days, the fungus still lived. Unable to destroy the bacteria, the hospital room’s ceiling, furniture, and bedsheets all had to be replaced just to disinfect the room. While antibiotics are put on a bacterial wound to cure a patient of it, there are larger consequences of antibiotic overuse. “We should have stricter regulations over the distribution of antibiotics,” said Ester Liu ’19. “Super-bugs can’t be prevented from being created. Due to the fact that there will always be mutations, there will always be bacteria that are resistant to certain types of poisons and medicine,” said Andrew Chow ’19. Eventually, the bacteria that are resistant to a drug will eventually start a new line of resistant bugs, which in turn creates an endless cycle of resistant super-bugs.

“We should have stricter regulations over the distribution of antibiotics,” said Ester Liu ’19.

Super-bugs manifest particularly in hospitals and on hospital workers in an alarmingly underreported amount. While many of these super-bugs are harmless, malicious ones such as candida auris must have more public exposure. The CDC lists candida auris as a “serious global health threat” due to it being multidrug-resistant, difficult to identify, and its outbreak in patient healthcare facilities. Due to the difficulty of identifying candida auris, risk of mistreatment of patients is high in cases of those suspected to be afflicted by candida auris. Furthermore, the assault of the fungus on healthcare facilities containing patients with already weakened immune systems creates a dangerous environment for those who need medical attention and are stuck in hospitals. There is also the concern of healthcare workers who move in and out of different facilities, potentially spreading candida auris into new areas.

More regulation and public awareness is needed on the spread of fungi such as candida auris. While candida auris has gotten some exposure due to the deaths in the United States, it is important for hospitals and health workers to be more knowledgeable of the super-bugs that swarm their work environment for the safety of workers, patients, and citizens alike.

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