White ears. Little known to the public, the dangerous fungus, which has infected patients at the Pierre-Boucher Hospital in Longueuil, has been identified by health authorities since 2009. It is deadly, but you should not panic, says a specialist.
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“It is found almost mainly in healthcare settings. It’s not a fungus that colonizes you like the famous Candida albicans that everyone has a bit on their body. the White ears was detected in 2009 in a patient in Japan who had an ear infection. And, it then spread a little, ”explains Dr. Cécile Tremblay, microbiologist-infectiologist at the Center Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal.
Who is at risk of contracting the White ears? “It attacks people whose immune system is weakened either by a very serious disease or their state of basic immunosuppression, transplant recipients, transplant recipients. The fungus will do the most damage to them,” says Dr. Tremblay.
The White ears resistant to antifungals, treatments used to treat fungal infections.
“If Candida auris enters the blood, in the lungs of a patient, the risk of mortality is very high”, informs the microbiologist-infectiologist.
Dr. Tremblay maintains that it is necessary to maintain the infection prevention techniques still in place in Quebec hospitals in order to control the fungus, in particular washing hands, wearing a gown, gloves.
“These are the basic methods to prevent outbreaks and transmission in healthcare settings,” she says.
What about the mask? Can it help stop the spread of White ears? “We have no evidence yet that it can be transmitted by droplets or aerosols. The fungus is known to be transmitted by direct or indirect contact with contaminated objects. Anyway, in hospitals we wear the mask, ”recalls Cécile Tremblay.
The situation at the Pierre-Boucher hospital center is worrying. However, the specialist wants to be reassuring.
“There is no need to panic. It’s restricted right now, but there’s a heightened state of alertness. Everything must be done to prevent it from spreading further,” she concludes.
*** Watch the full interview with Dr. Cécile Tremblay in the video above