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Dutch researchers will set up a screening system for dangerous fungi. In this way, there will be a better surveillance of possible outbreaks, especially of the candida auris.

According to the researchers, this fungus is an increasing problem worldwide. Major outbreaks have been reported in Italy, Spain, Greece and the United States. RIVM had already made preparations.

In the Netherlands, hundreds of people with a serious fungal infection are in hospital. About 35 to 40 percent of them do not survive that. These people often end up in a hospital for other problems, where they then get infected with the fungal infection. Candida auris is not yet common in the Netherlands, it concerns some cases in recent years.  

Increasingly resistant

Fungi are increasingly resistant to fungicides, says project leader Eelco Meijer. It has also recently been shown that the candida auris is resistant to all drugs in some cases. “That’s a huge problem,” Meijer says. “To be ahead of a possible outbreak, it’s good to know to what extent this fungus really goes around.”  

According to the researchers, the screening system will be the first in the world in this particular area. “So we are far ahead,” says Meijer. The system allows the researchers to see which fungi are going around, and what genetic material they have. This can be done by examining sewage and people with infections.  

Major outbreak in Greece  

The researchers from the Radboud UMC, the Canisius -Wilhelmina Hospital, the UMCG Groningen and the RIVM will also map out a major outbreak in Greece. That country is struggling to control the outbreak, Meijer says. “Of course we want to prevent that in the Netherlands, and that’s why we need to know why things go wrong there.”  

The fungus can cause a serious infection in people with a weak immune system. The fungus can live outside the body for a long period of time, and can be spread through medical instruments. In people with a strong immune system, candida auris often disappears from the body on its own.