Inevitable deadly superbug Candida auris will reach New Zealand - expert

It's inevitable a deadly fungal infection will reach our shores, according to a health expert.

It’s called Candida auris and it’s difficult to treat because it's resistant to frontline antifungal drugs.

The fungus spreads most easily in hospitals, and "is a problem for people whose immune system is damaged,"said Otago University Professor Michael Baker.

That includes "very young, premature children, very elderly people with severe health problems, people recovering from surgery," he said.

Those infected with the superbug can develop a deadly bloodstream infection.

"The literature suggests that there is a high mortality rate between 20 and 50 percent," said Janice Verley, infectious disease specialist at New York’s Nassau University Medical Centre.

The number of countries with reported cases of the infection is now more than 30, including Canada, Britain, and Australia.

In the United States there’s now been more than 6000 cases.

"Anybody who has concerns about fevers, chills, sweats, wound infections, anything like that, should seek care as soon as possible," said Ms Verley.

Mr Baker told 1 NEWS it’s a matter of time before Candida auris arrives here, and he’s worried our health systems not prepared for it.

"We need a lot more work to prepare for this and other forms of anti-microbial resistance," he said.

"I mean we know this is coming ... this organism and other organisms like it."

"We need protocols, trained staff, we need to look at laboratory systems, ways of screening patients a whole lot of things," he said.

In a statement to 1 NEWS, the Ministry of Health said the biggest risk for New Zealand is from patients who transfer here from overseas hospitals.

It’s adamant, "the National Reference mycology laboratory for New Zealand is available to provide confirmatory and susceptibility testing".

The ministry adding that it’s taking action to minimise the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance.

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    The number of cases worldwide is rising with at least six cases in Australia. Source: 1 NEWS