The Alarming Growth of Fungal Infections and How to Get Them Under Control
Our lead scientist, Barry Burles has written the below article around the latest announcement from the WHO that includes a list of fungal pathogens that are increasingly becoming a threat to humanity. Barry details his previous success in cleanliness protocols in battling them for a safer, cleaner environment.
In the same week that the UN has reported many more deaths due to heat waves and increased risk of infections due to global warming, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of the alarming growth of fungal infections, especially since the pandemic. And global warming is making the situation increasingly worse, forcing fungi to adapt to the rising temperatures. This leads to new varieties emerging, many of which will be more infectious. The USA has recently reported outbreaks in both Dallas and Washington DC of an untreatable and lethal fungal superbug called Candida auris. Against this background, new disinfection technologies and approaches need to be adopted because the existing standards of cleanliness and hygiene are proving to be increasingly inadequate. Such upgrading of hygiene standards is all the more important because there are only four anti fungal drug classes and there is growing and multiple resistance against all four, especially amongst common fungal infections such as Candida oral and vaginal thrush. Resistance has been detected against even echinocandins which are the last line of anti-fungal defence.
The threat from fungal infections has always been great, although historically the number of fungal infections has been much smaller than from bacteria, viruses and other diseases, and diagnosing a fungal infection is much harder and slower. As a result, public awareness of the threat is too low and fungal infections have received too little clinical research funding. Each year, there are about 150 million severe fungal infections world wide from which there are roughly 1.7 million deaths (WHO). There are high incidences of fungal infections in equatorial and seasonally hot, wet and humid parts of the world like parts of India.
“Raising the threat of fungal infections to a priority is long overdue … less that 3% of spending on contagious diseases goes on fungal causes,”
says Dr Stone Consultant of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology at UCLH.
To lessen the impact of future pandemics and likely complications from secondary and opportunistic fungal infections, brave use of new and better disinfectant technologies is needed. The required levels of enhanced infection control will not be delivered using more of the same disinfection technologies in common use today such as Chlorides.
Pathisol is a young and progressive company using natural and powerfully effective and thorough disinfection technologies that fit seamlessly into existing cleaning protocols. They are totally harmless to the environment and people. They kill in seconds the fungal, bacterial and viral infections and the spores in minutes, using simultaneously a multitude of disruptive methodologies at the intracellular level, making microbial resistance against them most unlikely. The Pathisol Clinical Cleaner & Disinfectant breaks down rapidly into water, oxygen and salt, leaving no residue or odour. The technology has been been applied by a sister company to great effect in the USA where they have transformed some of the dirtiest hospitals into being amongst the cleanest. These hospitals had to change from using yet more Chlorine because it was evidently not working, including against increasing numbers of fungal contaminants. These hospitals are now amongst the few in the USA with very low levels of Hospital Acquired Infections and post operative wound infections and septicemias. Pathisol has been trialling the same technology in an NHS hospital in the UK, delivering a deep clean each time, making all elements of the hospital progressively more clean. Preventing fungal infections is equally as important as preventing all other infections, removing them from all aspects of the environment.
The WHO has prioritised the 19 most concerning of these fungal infections into critical, high and medium priority, based on the recorded Public Health burden of disease, anti-microbial-resistance (AMR) and the availability of diagnostics. All of the four critical fungal pathogens have high mortality rates. One of the authors of the report, Dr Haileyesus Getahun, Director of WHO AMR Global Co-ordination Department, stated that the incidence of invasive fungal infections increased significantly during Covid amongst hospitalised patients. This demonstrates that fungi are present in most hospital environments ready to infect the severely ill Covid patients and the immunocompromised in particular. Few hospitals know their state of cleanliness or the background numbers of microbial pathogens in their wards, ICUs and operating theatres. As a consequence, they have to respond to these pathogens when they make their presence known by infecting vulnerable patients. Dr Hanah Balhy, WHO assistant director-general for AMR said, “Emerging from the shadows of bacterial antimicrobial resistance (AMR) of the pandemic, fungal infections are growing and are never more resistant to treatments, becoming a public concern world wide.” If fungi are not present in the healing environment, they cannot infect the patients.
The choice of disinfection technology used is a critical decision in the fight against Hospital Acquired Fungal infections.
Read the WHO announcement here