Fungus fears after Melbourne hospital patient gets superbug infection

Desiree Burns
August 7, 2018

The Victoria health department said: "C auris can cause bloodstream infections and even death, particularly in hospital and nursing home patients with serious medical problems".

An example of a superbug.

Victorian deputy chief health officer, Dr Brett Sutton said while the man had been diagnosed with the bug, he wasn't considered to be "infected" but was rather "colonised", Nine News reports.

Doctors diagnosed the fungus-carrying man, aged in his 70s, at a Melbourne hospital, but it's believed he may have come into contact with the bug after visiting a hospital in the United Kingdom, ABC News reports.

Dr Sutton said the elderly man's infection was the first locally known case of the rare fungus.

"We've got no evidence of spread but we're going through a process now of screening a number of his contacts on the wards to see whether there's been any possibility of spread", he said.

It is the first known case of Candida auris in Victoria and has prompted authorities to adopt a "search and destroy" approach to prevent an outbreak.

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The bug survives on cooler skin and surfaces, which amplifies the risk of it spreading in hospital and between patients.

The rare fungal infection can also be very hard to irradiate - mainly because of the bug's resistant to many antifungal medicines.

"The man was isolated as soon as the diagnosis was made and intense cleaning and disinfection has occurred", Sutton said in a statement.

Dr Sutton said the fungus was often highly resistant to medicines, which made it hard to treat.

"It means that some people who get invasive infections like blood poisoning may well die from that infection because it's effectively untreatable or very hard to treat".

People who are fit and healthy need not worry about C. auris, but be "aware" of it, Dr Sutton advised.

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