‘We need to be vigilant’

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Your sweet little pooch might be hiding a deadly secret from you.

Scientists have discovered the drug-resistant fungus Candida auris from an animal, and it came from the ear canals of dogs.

The fungus is a serious concern as it is now resistant to most, if not all, of the antifungal medicines used to treat it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The recent finding — discovered in the ears of four stray dogs in India — is especially alarming because it means man’s best friend could transmit the fungus to humans.

Some medical experts estimate that more than one in three patients with serious C. auris infections will die, according to a news release.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared C. auris one of the world’s “critical priority” fungal diseases.

“Even though C. auris was only found in stray dogs in this study, there are many stray dogs in many parts of the world,” said Jianping Xu, co-author of the study and a professor at McMaster University in Canada.

vet inspecting dog's ear
The deadly fungus C. auris was recently discovered for the first time in animals – in the ears of dogs.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

“These dogs could act as transmission vehicles for C. auris to reach other animals and humans,” Xu added. The study was published in the Journal of Fungi.

Other fungi have been seen in dogs, but this is the first time C. auris had been isolated from any animal.

DNA analysis of the C. auris found in the four dogs revealed genetic similarities between the dogs’ fungal strains and those found in humans, making it more likely that the dogs’ fungus could jump to humans.

“We need to be vigilant in the surveillance of dogs, other domesticated pets and wild animals in regions where C. auris is endemic,” said Xu.

“While C. auris spreads easily from human to human, the route of transmission among animals or from animals to humans is much less clear and further investigation is required.” 

image of WHO conference
The WHO has declared Candida auris one of the world’s “critical priority” fungal diseases.
AFP via Getty Images

The fungus is a particular concern in hospital settings, where it can cause severe outbreaks among patients.

New York state was among the states with the most cases of C. auris in America, with 379 confirmed cases of the dangerous, drug-resistant fungus in 2022.

Last year’s totals put it alongside Nevada, California and Florida as the states with the most infections from the fungus with 384, 359 and 349, respectively.

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