CDC launches first Fungal Disease Awareness Week

Today marks the start of the first-ever Fungal Disease Awareness Week, which will be held until August 18.

The CDC organized the event to highlight the importance of considering fungal diseases, which often go undiagnosed, when treating an infection. The agency is asking physicians and patients with infections to “Think Fungus” if patients’ symptoms persist despite treatment.

“Fungal diseases can cause serious illnesses and death, yet often go undiagnosed because their symptoms look like those of other diseases,” a CDC statement said. “For instance, Valley fever is an inhaled fungal disease that is often misdiagnosed as bacterial pneumonia, resulting in the wrong treatment and putting patients at risk of antibiotic-resistance infections.”

People who are most affected by serious fungal diseases include patients with cancer, patients with HIV/AIDS, organ or stem cell transplant recipients, hospitalized patients and those receiving medications that weaken the immune system, according to the CDC. The agency reported that:

  • there are about 46,000 cases of health care-associated invasive Candida infections identified in the United States each year;
  • Candidemia is one of the most common causes of health care-associated bloodstream infections in the U.S., and approximately one in three people with the infection die;
  • certain types of Candida and Aspergillus infections are becoming more difficult to treat as antimicrobial resistance continues to increase;
  • an estimated 150,000 Valley fever infections occur in the U.S. each year, but only about 10,000 cases are diagnosed; and
  • approximately 220,000 cases of cryptococcal meningitis occur worldwide each year, resulting in an estimated 180,000 deaths.

To mark the occasion of Fungal Disease Awareness Week, Infectious Disease News has compiled a list of the top 10 stories about fungal infections over the past year:

Reducing antimicrobial resistance begins with better fungal infection diagnosis

Clinicians who fail to correctly diagnose fungal infections may overprescribe antimicrobials, increasing drug resistance worldwide, according to a study published in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

David Perlin
David Perlin

“If we’re trying to deliver globally on a comprehensive plan to prevent antimicrobial resistance, and we’re treating blindly for fungal infections that we don’t know are present with antibiotics, then we may inadvertently be creating greater antibiotic resistance,” David Perlin, PhD, executive director of the Public Health Research Institute Center at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and member of the Global Action Fund for Fungal Infections, said in a press release. Read more.

C. auris: ‘A nasty bug’ threatening US hospitals

Infectious Disease News spoke with several health experts to better understand C. auris and what its arrival in the U.S. means for clinicians and their patients. Although the infection is still rare in the country, experts have voiced concern about its reported drug resistance and the difficulty of distinguishing it from other invasive Candida infections, which could lead to inappropriate treatment. Read more.

No explanation for record number of California valley fever cases

State and federal health investigators are still unsure of the reasons behind last year’s record number of valley fever cases in California but said the spike may have been caused by changes in climate and the environment.

They urged health care providers to be on the lookout for the condition, which is spread through airborne dust, in patients who have lived in or traveled to endemic areas. Read more.

Low-cost, yeast-based assay reliably detects fungal pathogens

Researchers at Columbia University have developed a tool that uses baker’s yeast to detect fungal pathogens responsible for human disease, agricultural damage, food spoilage and population decline among animal wildlife worldwide.

Virginia W. Cornish, PhD, Helena Rubinstein Professor from the department of chemistry at Columbia University, and colleagues designed the test as a low-cost dipstick assay, similar to an at-home pregnancy test. The sensitivity and specificity levels of the test are comparable to those of more expensive whole cell antibody and nucleic acid assays, according to data published in Science Advances. Read more.

IDSA releases new coccidioidomycosis clinical practice guidelines

IDSA has updated its clinical practice guidelines for the diagnosis and management of coccidioidomycosis, otherwise known as San Joaquin Valley fever.

The new recommendations update prior IDSA guidance published in 2005, and include treatment suggestions for pregnant women, immunosuppressed patients and those who may otherwise be at increased risk of severe coccidioidal illness. In addition, the new guidance includes advice for primary care providers who could mistake the fungal infection for another form of pneumonia. Read more.

More effective cytomegalovirus prophylactic therapies needed for high-risk HSCT recipients

Due to advances in diagnostic methods and the development of preventive or pre-emptive strategies, the incidence of cytomegalovirus disease after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, or HSCT, has fallen to 8% to 10% in the past decade. Yet, while the incidence of cytomegalovirus disease in HSCT recipients has improved, the indirect effects of cytomegalovirus still cause significant morbidity and mortality, and virus reactivation remains a risk factor for poor posttransplant outcomes. Read more.

ID consults improve management of cryptococcosis in patients without HIV

Recent data showed that patients with cryptococcosis who received an infectious disease consult had lower 3-month mortality rates and were more likely to be managed in accordance with evidence-based Infectious Diseases Society of America guidelines.

WIlliam Powderly
William G. Powderly

“Several studies have shown a predisposition towards lower mortality in cryptococcal patients with HIV, and worse outcomes in cryptococcal non-solid organ transplant patients who are HIV-negative,” William G. Powderly, MD, president of the IDSA, and colleagues wrote. “Treatment consistent with [IDSA] guidelines has been associated with improved outcomes in cryptococcal patients, both in selection of induction treatment and management of opening pressure.” Read more.

Voriconazole effective in children for aspergillosis, candidiasis

Antifungal treatment with voriconazole yielded safety and efficacy outcomes in children with invasive aspergillosis, invasive candidiasis and esophageal candidiasis similar to those in adults, according to study data.

Aspergillus and Candida species are the predominant causes of invasive fungal infection in pediatric patients,” Judith M. Martin, MD, from the department of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, and colleagues wrote. “The incidence of invasive fungal infection has increased substantially in recent years, largely due to the increasing number of children at risk of acquiring these infections.” Read more.

Cryptococcal meningitis causes 15% of AIDS - related deaths globally

Cryptococcal meningitis caused an estimated 15% of AIDS-related deaths globally in 2014 but remains a neglected factor in the response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, researchers said.

Radha Rajasingham, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases and international medicine at the University of Minnesota, and colleagues estimated that there are more than 180,000 global deaths annually from cryptococcal meningitis, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. Read more.

Cryptococcosis risk following solid organ transplantation highest in lung recipients

Lung transplant recipients had a greater risk for developing cryptococcosis than other recipients of solid organ transplants, according to the results of a retrospective cohort study.

“Traditionally cryptococcosis is most often associated with [HIV] infection; however, with the advent of effective antiretroviral therapy, the majority of cases in developed nations occur among nonHIV-infected patients, especially organ transplant recipients,” IDSA President William G. Powderly, MD, FIDSA, and colleagues wrote in Open Forum Infectious Diseases. “Results from the Transplant-Associated Infection Surveillance Network, a consortium of 23 U.S. transplant centers, showed that cryptococcosis is the third most common invasive fungal infection in SOT recipients, after invasive candidiasis and aspergillosis.” Read more.

Today marks the start of the first-ever Fungal Disease Awareness Week, which will be held until August 18.

The CDC organized the event to highlight the importance of considering fungal diseases, which often go undiagnosed, when treating an infection. The agency is asking physicians and patients with infections to “Think Fungus” if patients’ symptoms persist despite treatment.

“Fungal diseases can cause serious illnesses and death, yet often go undiagnosed because their symptoms look like those of other diseases,” a CDC statement said. “For instance, Valley fever is an inhaled fungal disease that is often misdiagnosed as bacterial pneumonia, resulting in the wrong treatment and putting patients at risk of antibiotic-resistance infections.”

People who are most affected by serious fungal diseases include patients with cancer, patients with HIV/AIDS, organ or stem cell transplant recipients, hospitalized patients and those receiving medications that weaken the immune system, according to the CDC. The agency reported that:

  • there are about 46,000 cases of health care-associated invasive Candida infections identified in the United States each year;
  • Candidemia is one of the most common causes of health care-associated bloodstream infections in the U.S., and approximately one in three people with the infection die;
  • certain types of Candida and Aspergillus infections are becoming more difficult to treat as antimicrobial resistance continues to increase;
  • an estimated 150,000 Valley fever infections occur in the U.S. each year, but only about 10,000 cases are diagnosed; and
  • approximately 220,000 cases of cryptococcal meningitis occur worldwide each year, resulting in an estimated 180,000 deaths.

To mark the occasion of Fungal Disease Awareness Week, Infectious Disease News has compiled a list of the top 10 stories about fungal infections over the past year:

Reducing antimicrobial resistance begins with better fungal infection diagnosis

Clinicians who fail to correctly diagnose fungal infections may overprescribe antimicrobials, increasing drug resistance worldwide, according to a study published in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

David Perlin
David Perlin

“If we’re trying to deliver globally on a comprehensive plan to prevent antimicrobial resistance, and we’re treating blindly for fungal infections that we don’t know are present with antibiotics, then we may inadvertently be creating greater antibiotic resistance,” David Perlin, PhD, executive director of the Public Health Research Institute Center at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and member of the Global Action Fund for Fungal Infections, said in a press release. Read more.

C. auris: ‘A nasty bug’ threatening US hospitals

Infectious Disease News spoke with several health experts to better understand C. auris and what its arrival in the U.S. means for clinicians and their patients. Although the infection is still rare in the country, experts have voiced concern about its reported drug resistance and the difficulty of distinguishing it from other invasive Candida infections, which could lead to inappropriate treatment. Read more.

No explanation for record number of California valley fever cases

State and federal health investigators are still unsure of the reasons behind last year’s record number of valley fever cases in California but said the spike may have been caused by changes in climate and the environment.

They urged health care providers to be on the lookout for the condition, which is spread through airborne dust, in patients who have lived in or traveled to endemic areas. Read more.

PAGE BREAK

Low-cost, yeast-based assay reliably detects fungal pathogens

Researchers at Columbia University have developed a tool that uses baker’s yeast to detect fungal pathogens responsible for human disease, agricultural damage, food spoilage and population decline among animal wildlife worldwide.

Virginia W. Cornish, PhD, Helena Rubinstein Professor from the department of chemistry at Columbia University, and colleagues designed the test as a low-cost dipstick assay, similar to an at-home pregnancy test. The sensitivity and specificity levels of the test are comparable to those of more expensive whole cell antibody and nucleic acid assays, according to data published in Science Advances. Read more.

IDSA releases new coccidioidomycosis clinical practice guidelines

IDSA has updated its clinical practice guidelines for the diagnosis and management of coccidioidomycosis, otherwise known as San Joaquin Valley fever.

The new recommendations update prior IDSA guidance published in 2005, and include treatment suggestions for pregnant women, immunosuppressed patients and those who may otherwise be at increased risk of severe coccidioidal illness. In addition, the new guidance includes advice for primary care providers who could mistake the fungal infection for another form of pneumonia. Read more.

More effective cytomegalovirus prophylactic therapies needed for high-risk HSCT recipients

Due to advances in diagnostic methods and the development of preventive or pre-emptive strategies, the incidence of cytomegalovirus disease after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, or HSCT, has fallen to 8% to 10% in the past decade. Yet, while the incidence of cytomegalovirus disease in HSCT recipients has improved, the indirect effects of cytomegalovirus still cause significant morbidity and mortality, and virus reactivation remains a risk factor for poor posttransplant outcomes. Read more.

ID consults improve management of cryptococcosis in patients without HIV

Recent data showed that patients with cryptococcosis who received an infectious disease consult had lower 3-month mortality rates and were more likely to be managed in accordance with evidence-based Infectious Diseases Society of America guidelines.

WIlliam Powderly
William G. Powderly

“Several studies have shown a predisposition towards lower mortality in cryptococcal patients with HIV, and worse outcomes in cryptococcal non-solid organ transplant patients who are HIV-negative,” William G. Powderly, MD, president of the IDSA, and colleagues wrote. “Treatment consistent with [IDSA] guidelines has been associated with improved outcomes in cryptococcal patients, both in selection of induction treatment and management of opening pressure.” Read more.

Voriconazole effective in children for aspergillosis, candidiasis

Antifungal treatment with voriconazole yielded safety and efficacy outcomes in children with invasive aspergillosis, invasive candidiasis and esophageal candidiasis similar to those in adults, according to study data.

PAGE BREAK

Aspergillus and Candida species are the predominant causes of invasive fungal infection in pediatric patients,” Judith M. Martin, MD, from the department of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, and colleagues wrote. “The incidence of invasive fungal infection has increased substantially in recent years, largely due to the increasing number of children at risk of acquiring these infections.” Read more.

Cryptococcal meningitis causes 15% of AIDS - related deaths globally

Cryptococcal meningitis caused an estimated 15% of AIDS-related deaths globally in 2014 but remains a neglected factor in the response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, researchers said.

Radha Rajasingham, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases and international medicine at the University of Minnesota, and colleagues estimated that there are more than 180,000 global deaths annually from cryptococcal meningitis, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. Read more.

Cryptococcosis risk following solid organ transplantation highest in lung recipients

Lung transplant recipients had a greater risk for developing cryptococcosis than other recipients of solid organ transplants, according to the results of a retrospective cohort study.

“Traditionally cryptococcosis is most often associated with [HIV] infection; however, with the advent of effective antiretroviral therapy, the majority of cases in developed nations occur among nonHIV-infected patients, especially organ transplant recipients,” IDSA President William G. Powderly, MD, FIDSA, and colleagues wrote in Open Forum Infectious Diseases. “Results from the Transplant-Associated Infection Surveillance Network, a consortium of 23 U.S. transplant centers, showed that cryptococcosis is the third most common invasive fungal infection in SOT recipients, after invasive candidiasis and aspergillosis.” Read more.