South Africa is placed on alert for ‘superbug’ as drug-resistant yeast infections rise globally

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases has warned doctors and laboratories to be on the alert for cases of multidrug-resistant yeast infections. South Africa has already recorded cases of drug-resistant Candida auris in public and private hospitals, according to the institute’s medical officer, Magendhree Moodley.

The potentially deadly infection usually develops in the ear, throat or mouth but has only been known to cause severe infections in patients who have been hospitalised.

This “superbug” is thought to be transmitted from patient to patient in health facilities, or through contact with infected objects or the hands of healthcare workers, Moodley says.

The United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that it is still not known exactly how the fungus is spread, but it may be present on surfaces in hospital rooms occupied by infected patients.

Patients who have recently been hospitalised, undergone surgery or used a catheter while at a healthcare facility are most at risk of contracting the fungal infection, Moodley says. Others at risk of picking up the bug while in hospital include patients with diabetes, chronic kidney disease and some forms of cancer.

Candida, or yeast, is normally present in small quantities on the skin and on certain types of membranes such as those that line the mouth, throat and reproductive tract, according to the CDC.

The drug-resistant yeast strain is related to, but is not the same as, the more commonly known Candida albicans that gives rise to vaginal thrush.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases institute’s recent alert to clinicians comes on the heels of similar warnings by the CDC. Since initial cases were discovered in Gauteng in 2013, neighbouring provinces have also diagnosed cases of infection. Most have been reported in the private sector and have been largely discovered in samples of patients’ urine or on used catheters, Moodley says.

Although the condition does not respond to common antifungal treatments such as Fluconazole, the condition can be treated with a new class of antifungals called Echinocandin or Amphotericin B.

Echinocandins are available in private health facilities whereas Amphotericin B is used in the public sector. The length of treatment varies according to the patient but should not cost more than the standard treatments for common yeast infections, Moodley explains.

The institute advises hospital laboratories to send blood samples from suspected cases to its facilities for confirmation as part of routine surveillance.

Tell us what you think – make a comment and rate our story on a scale of 1 (really bad) to 10 (excellent). We’d love to hear from you.

Advertisting

R1.1-billion land claim “captured”

This story was produced in partnership with Pulitzer Center. Details of the land claim settlement for MalaMala, one...

Lekwa municipality won’t answer questions about why children died in...

Three children are dead. More than a dozen homes have been gutted by fires in the past six months. And, as...

Failure to investigate TRC cases during the Mandela era delayed...

Counsel for late trade unionist Neil Aggett’s family decries the slow pace of instituting an inquest into his death

SANDF colonel accused of swindling colleagues in UN business scam

A senior soldier who is part of South Africa’s peacekeeping missions is accused by her colleagues of swindling them out of of hundreds of thousands of rands in a nonexistent business deal
Advertising

Press Releases

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.

KZN teacher educators jet off to Columbia University

A group of academics were selected as participants of the programme focused on PhD completion, mobility, supervision capacity development and the generation of high-impact research.

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Is your tertiary institution is accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Is your tertiary institution accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

VUT chancellor, Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi, dies

The university conferred the degree of Doctor of Science Honoris Causa on Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi for his outstanding leadership contributions to maths and science education development.