Public Warning Issued After Man Found With Fungal Superbug In Victoria

Desiree Burns
August 9, 2018

An elderly Victorian man has been been placed in isolation after he was diagnosed with a rare and deadly superbug at a Melbourne hospital.

It is the first locally known case of the fungus, Candida auris, Dr Sutton said. This is the first known case of the infection in Victoria.

The uncommon type of fungus, called Candia auris (C. auris), can be particularly hard to treat, unlike other common types of candida infections, which typically cause thrush.

Candida auris infection has been a public concern due to its increasing prominence overseas.

The fungus was first identified in Japan in 2009 and has since spread to more than a dozen countries, including the U.S., where it has become a menace in hospitals in NY and New Jersey.

Health experts worldwide are anxious about the spread of the disease due to its ability to often resist multiple anti-fungal medicines, making it challenging to treat.

The bug survives on cooler skin and surfaces, which amplifies the risk of it spreading in hospital and between patients. Candida auris is also hard to identify with standard laboratory methods, which can lead to misidentification and result in inappropriate management of the disease.

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"Candida auris can cause problems in hospitals and nursing homes as it can spread from one patient to another or nearby objects, allowing the fungus to spread to people around them", the department warns.

"C auris has caused outbreaks in healthcare facilities and can spread through contact with affected patients and contaminated surfaces or equipment".

The fungus can infect wounds, ears and the bloodstream.

However Dr Sutton urged people to stay calm.

"It's a danger for people who are vulnerable, if they've got significant, pre-existing illness", he told ABC.

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

- Cover any wounds with a bandage whenever possible.

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