Thursday Thunder: Tanzania Marburg Disease + Candida Auris Fungal Infections in the US
As a world traveler, learning about the health situation in places you plan to visit is crucial. We believe that healthy travel is the best way to travel, and with the current situation, it’s more important than ever.
Despite the fact that many parts of the world are struggling with different diseases, we think we shouldn’t stop exploring. Instead, let’s take precautions and travel smart.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at:
- The recent outbreak of Marburg Disease in Tanzania
- The current state of fungal infections in the United States
Ready? Let’s get started
Marburg Disease in Tanzania: What’s Going On?
The WHO has confirmed the first cases of Marburg disease in the Kagera region, posing a new challenge to Tanzania’s fight against infectious diseases.
While this marks the first instance of the disease being detected in Tanzania, it’s not the first crisis the country has faced in recent years. Tanzania has experienced COVID-19, cholera, and dengue only in the past three years.
Frequent Questions about Marburg Disease
- What is the Marburg virus? The Marburg virus is a member of the filovirus family (like the Ebola virus) that causes Marburg disease, a viral hemorrhagic fever disease with a case fatality rate that can reach up to 88%.
- How does the Marburg virus spread? Marburg disease is transmitted by fruit bats and direct contact with body fluids from infected people, surfaces, and materials.
Last week, eight individuals in the region began exhibiting the most noticeable symptoms of the Marburg virus including:
- Kidney failure
After that event, laboratory tests confirmed five cases of Marburg disease, one of which included a health worker who passed away. The remaining three cases are currently undergoing treatment, while the 161 individuals in contact with those infected are being monitored.
If you were asking about a Marburg virus treatment, it’s safe to say there are currently no vaccines or antiviral treatments available to treat the virus. Only supportive care, rehydration, and treatment of specific symptoms can increase the chances of survival.
Is Marburg Disease a Concern for Travelers?
The Marburg outbreak is still in its early stages and can still be contained. International health authorities and the WHO are collaborating to stop Marburg virus transmission as soon as possible.
Nevertheless, taking special precautions is imperious, remember to:
- Avoid contact with fruit bats and non-human primates.
- Practice good hygiene, including frequent hand washing and avoiding contact with bodily fluids of people who are sick.
- Wear protective clothing, such as gloves and masks, when caring for sick people.
- Isolate suspected cases and trace contacts to prevent the further spread of the virus.
“Echinocandin-resistant” Candida Auris Fungal in the US
Last week, Candida Auris caught the attention of the CDC. This fungal infection has been spreading rapidly in the U.S. for the last few years. In fact, infection numbers went from 1,471 in 2021 to 2,377 infections in 2022.
What is Candida Auris?
Candida Auris is a yeast that can cause severe infections in humans. It was first identified in 2009 in Japan and has since been found in many countries, including the United States since 2016.
Candida Auris infections are difficult to treat and can cause severe illness. In fact, the WHO has included it on its list of “priority fungal pathogens” highlighting its resistance to antifungal medicines and virulence.
Nonetheless, Candida Auris typically poses no risk to healthy individuals. Only those with compromised immune systems or who use medical devices, such as ventilators or catheters, are susceptible to infection.
Despite efforts to control it, Candida Auris is a serious threat of antimicrobial resistance. Many cases tested were discovered to be immune to the most widely used Candida Auris treatment called “echinocandins”, hence the name “echinocandin-resistant Candida.”
In addition, assessing the exact role Candida Auris plays in the passing of a vulnerable patient can also be difficult.
The CDC has identified that the infection can spread through contact with contaminated surfaces or equipment or affected patients.
Candida Auris Symptoms
According to the CDC, the most common symptoms of Candida Auris are:
However, Candida Auris infection is difficult to detect and symptoms may not improve with treatment. A laboratory test is needed to confirm infection.
To prevent Candida Auris, patients at risk should:
- Wash their hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Don’t make contact with patients infected with Candida Auris.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and equipment especially in healthcare facilities.
What’s Behind The Increase in Candida Auris Spread?
The CDC attributes the increase in reported cases to three main causes:
- Poor infection prevention in healthcare facilities.
- Increased screening efforts (which detected an increase in infections).
- The strain placed on healthcare and public health systems during COVID-19.
Despite recent outbreaks of Marburg Disease and Candida Auris in the US, travelers can reduce the risk of contracting these diseases by avoiding contact with infected individuals and maintaining good hygiene practices.
Stay informed and get tested for COVID-19 before traveling for a safe and confident journey. Discover COVID testing centers near you with our global directory.