Photo: The Canadian Press
This undated photo made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a strain of Candida auris grown in a Petri dish in a CDC lab. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Shawn Lockhart-CDC via AP
A dangerous fungus known for its resistance to treatment was detected earlier this month in a hospital in Longueuil, on the South Shore of Montreal, health authorities announced Thursday.
Since September 8, authorities have identified two cases involving patients with Candida auris at the Pierre-Boucher Hospital. However, neither of them developed a dangerous yeast infection linked to the fungus. Officials said one of the patients – and their close contacts – had been placed in isolation.
Regional health spokeswoman Caroline Doucet said the hospital has asked some staff to wear personal protective equipment, wash their hands frequently and employ other disinfection measures. All patients who had close contact with the two cases have been tested, and the hospital remains safe for patrons, the health agency said Thursday.
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Candida auris is an emerging fungus that is considered a serious threat to global health because it is often resistant to several antifungal drugs, is difficult to identify with standard laboratory tests and can trigger health epidemics. care settings.
Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos says he is concerned about the presence of the pathogen in Quebec and has asked federal public health officials to quickly gather information from the provinces to get a better picture. of the situation.
Dr. Simon F. Dufresne, a microbiologist and infectious disease specialist specializing in medical mycology, said it’s entirely possible that Candida auris is more present than detected, adding that the province has the appropriate equipment to identify various strains.
Dufresne said fungus identification experts had been expecting for about five years to identify cases in Canada. An article published by the Public Health Agency of Canada in November 2018 warned doctors about the possible presence of Candida auris and called on authorities to report cases to health authorities.
The fungus was first identified about a decade ago, said Dr. Donald Vinh, an infectious disease specialist and medical microbiologist at the McGill University Health Center. People can carry Candida Auris without realizing it because it’s mild and doesn’t produce symptoms, he said. It becomes problematic, however, when it enters the bloodstream, he added.
“When this happens, these patients have problems,” Vinh said, adding that people can become seriously ill, with symptoms including fever, drop in blood pressure, breathing problems and even heart failure. organ.
The other major concern is that the fungus is resistant to currently known treatments. Vinh said there are four classes of antifungal drugs for humans, three of which are used more frequently because the fourth has serious side effects. But Candida auris is resistant to all three commonly used treatments.
“We need to look to more innovative treatments, such as combination antifungals,” Vinh said.