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GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Here’s a novel approach to decreasing unnecessary antibiotic use: better diagnosis of fungal infections that don’t respond to the drugs.
The report in the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal points out how lack of proper testing for fungal infections leads to over-prescription of antibiotics worldwide.
“Inadequate attention is paid to fungal infection as the cause of antibacterial treatment failure,” write the authors, members of the Global Action Fund for Fungal Infections (GAFFI).
Antibiotic resistance is linked to 23,000 deaths per year and nearly $25 billion in excess healthcare costs in the United States, according to the article, and CDC has launched a $160 million, 50-state initiative to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
This report suggests that detecting fungal infections would help, citing four common clinical situations in which a lack of routine diagnostic testing for fungal diseases often worsens the problem:
“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,” explained David Perlin, PhD, a lead author and executive director of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School’s Public Health Research Institute.
Perlin maintained that inexpensive, rapid diagnostic tests are available for important fungal infections but are not being used widely. He urged more training to encourage healthcare practitioners to test for fungal infections so the correct drugs are administered.
In 2013, GAFFI launched an effort to promote global awareness of fungal disease as a major cause of deaths worldwide.