US Pharm. 2024;48(4):1.

A worldwide wave of infections caused by growing drug-resistant fungi  has the medical community issuing precautions on how individuals can protect themselves. Epidemiological data published in Microbial Cell indicate that a spike in severe fungal infections has resulted in over 150 million cases annually and almost 1.7 million fatalities globally.

Skin contact with microorganisms found in soil or on hard surfaces, such as common shower facilities, or exposure to infected pets can result in fungal infections known as dermatomycoses. Rashes, itching, burning, and skin irritation are among the symptoms.

In a recent study published in Pathogens and Immunity, Thomas McCormick and Mahmoud Ghannoum, professors of dermatology at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and affiliated with University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, explained how rising antifungal resistance is worsening the problem of invasive fungal infections.

“This is not just an issue that affects individual patients,” Dr. McCormick said. “The World Health Organization has recognized it as a widespread threat that has the potential to impact entire healthcare systems if left unchecked.”

Based on their findings, the researchers issued precautions and a “call to action” for the medical community to help protect people from multidrug-resistant fungi, starting with awareness and education. “Healthcare providers must prioritize the use of diagnostic tests when faced with an unknown fungal infection,” Dr. Ghannoum said. “Early detection can make all the difference in improving patient outcomes.”

Patients who are treated with medications to protect the immune system following cancer and transplant procedures are more vulnerable to fungal infections—making them especially vulnerable to infections from drug-resistant fungi, the researchers said.

The emergence of multidrug-resistant fungal species, such as Candida auris and Trichophyton indotineae, is especially troubling and requires urgent attention, they reported.

In a study recently published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, Dr. Ghannoum’s research team and the CDC detailed a case that demonstrated T indotineae, in addition to becoming drug-resistant, was also sexually transmissible.

To address the growing health concern, Drs. McCormick and Ghannoum suggest several measures: increased awareness and education; routine diagnostic testing, and antifungal susceptibility testing.

Addressing the emerging challenge of antifungal resistance involves concerted efforts from healthcare professionals, researchers, policymakers, and the pharmaceutical industry to develop and implement strategies for managing and preventing antifungal resistance, the scientists implored.

To comment on this article, contact