3 things we still don't know about Candida auris

The mysterious fungus Candida auris, first identified in 2009 in Japan, is a growing global problem. It causes bacteria-like outbreaks and is highly resistant to antifungal drugs.

STAT outlined the most pressing research questions confounding scientists, who say there's a critical need for answers.

Three things we still don't know about C. auris:

1. Where does it come from?

Most fungi are found in a variety of places, but C. auris has so far only been found in people. It must occur somewhere in nature, according to Tom Chiller, MD, chief of mycotic diseases at the CDC. Finding its origin could help scientists control it.

2. How do different clones of the fungus appear all over the globe in a very short time?

Several different countries have reported C. auris cases since its 2009 discovery, but gene sequencing has revealed that the disease varies widely by country. C. auris in South Africa looks and behaves differently from C. auris in South America or Asia, suggesting that it is not travelers who are spreading the disease.

3. How did it become so powerfully resistant to antifungal drugs?

Hospital patients in a 2016 London outbreak developed resistance to an entire class of antifungal drugs in just a month, "which is just unheard of," according to Johanna Rhodes, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London who studies the fungus. 

Click here to read more about scientists' unanswered C. auris questions.

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