Deadly fungal infection may have been spurred by global warming, researchers say

Candida auris, a deadly fungus that sprung up simultaneously on three continents, may be the first new fungal disease emerging from climate change, according to researchers from Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The fungus was first identified in 2009 in a human ear and has since been found across the globe. In the U.S., C. auris emerged in 2016, and there have been more than 700 cases of the infection as of May 31.

The researchers stated that C. auris did not spread like other viruses do, moving from location to location, according NBC News. It popped up in several locations, including India, South Africa and South America. This led researchers to believe that its emergence may have been the result of a change in environment on earth, namely global warming.

The research team conducted phylogenetic analysis of C. auris and compared it to different types of fungus. They found that while other fungi are unable to survive high temperatures and tend to be found only in lower temperatures, C. auris could withstand high temperatures.

This may be evidence that fungi have started to adapt to survive in higher temperatures and can survive ins our bodies, which fungi have not been able to do previously. C. auris is able to survive in the bodies of people who are very sick.

But scientists have not discovered the origin of C. auris, and as a result, the link between climate change and the emergence of C. auris cannot be proven.

C. auris is already drug-resistant, and "if more of these organisms become temperature-resistant, then we're gonna have more problems in the future," Arturo Casadevall, MD, PhD, chair of the molecular microbiology and immunology department at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told NBC News.

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