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NCDC issues public health alert on fungal pathogens

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has issued a public warning about a significant threat posed by a fungal infection.

The NCDC director-general, Ifedayo Adetifa, gave the warning in Abuja at the stakeholders’ meeting addressing the morbidity and mortality from invasive fungal diseases in Nigeria.

The Nigerian Fungal Disease Surveillance and Capacity Building (NIFUSCAB) is a fungal disease surveillance committee established in 2022. It collaborates with NCDC and the Medical Mycology Society of Nigeria (MMSN).

”Fungal pathogens are a major threat to public health as they are becoming increasingly common and resistant to treatment with only four classes of antifungal medicines currently available and few candidates in the clinical pipeline.

”Most fungal pathogens lack rapid and sensitive diagnostics, and those that exist were not widely available or affordable in the country,” he said.

The NCDC boss said the invasive forms of these fungal infections often affect severely ill patients and those with significant underlying immune system-related conditions.

“Populations at greatest risk of invasive fungal infections include those with cancer, HIV/AIDS, organ transplants, chronic respiratory disease, and post-primary tuberculosis infection,” stated Mr Adetifa.

Meanwhile, Rita Oladele, a microbiologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), said invasive fungal infections were life-threatening diseases with significant morbidity and mortality.

“Some of the drugs to treat these diseases are not routinely accessible and affordable. Two of these infections, if not promptly diagnosed, result in an over 70 per cent mortality rate. In 2014, an estimate of serious fungal infections in the country was done,” Ms Oladele said.

According to her, over 960,000 Nigerians are estimated to be affected by substantial mortality annually.

“A survey of doctors in Nigeria in the same year revealed that only two (0.002 per cent) out of 1,046 doctors had a good level of awareness and knowledge of invasive fungal diseases,” the LUTH microbiologist added.

She said there were documented reports of outbreaks of Candida Auris (a multi-drug resistant organism) across the world and recently in Nigeria.

“Mucormycosis (the black mould), which was a major scare in India during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, has also been documented amongst Nigerian patients. One of the drugs to manage this condition is not yet registered in Nigeria,” Ms Oladele explained.

(NAN)

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