Climate change could be behind rise of superbug, study finds

Higher temperatures could be spreading new fungal diseases. (Source: CNN)

(CNN) – Researchers are warning that climate change may be to blame for the spread of a multidrug-resistant superbug.

A new study released Tuesday in the journal mBio says the increase in cases of Candida auris infection could be just the beginning of new fungal diseases emerging because of climate change.

C. auris was first discovered a decade ago, but since then it's been found in more than 30 countries around the world, including the United States, India, Venezuela and South Africa.

Dr. Arturo Casadevall, a co-author of the study, said the strains are adapting to higher temperatures.

Fungal infections are rare in humans because the organisms usually can't grow in the human body's warm temperature range, but scientists are concerned that the ability of C. auris to adapt to higher temperatures could put people at risk.

"The argument that we are making based on comparison to other close relative fungi is that as the climate has gotten warmer, some of these organisms, including Candida auris, have adapted to the higher temperature, and as they adapt, they break through humans' protective temperatures," Casadevall said.

Casadevall added that global warming could lead to other new fungal diseases.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls C. auris a "serious global health threat" because it can lead to blood infections.

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