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How Can We Prevent Fungal Infections? | Professor Neil A.R. Gow

August 17, 2019

One very surprising thing about fungal
infections is there isn’t a single vaccine against any fungus so far. That
doesn’t mean to say that it shouldn’t be possible, but so far we
have not yet generated a single infection. So we’re all vulnerable to
that extent and our vulnerability is increased when we get ill. A lot of
fungal infections, serious fungal infections, are diseases of the diseased.
It costs a lot of money to keep and protect cancer patients from fungal
infections and that can often undo a lot of very elaborate, expensive, delicate
work to keep a cancer patient alive. Those people who have had organ
transplantation or any form of immune suppression are vulnerable to fungal
infections. So again, we have to be able to monitor the presence of fungi, deal
with them quickly and be aware of the context of fungal disease. Again, all of
these attributes are discussed in depth in this new book. Well, one thing in the whole field of
medical mycology which really changed the backdrop, was the advent of HIV/AIDS,
which of course developed initially in the 1980s. This created a whole new group of people who were particularly prone to a variety of fungal infections including
Pneumocystis, Candida, Cryptococcus and other infections. And that’s a particular
group of patients which we need to keep an eye on. Mercifully now, in many parts
of the world, we’ve been able to get on top of HIV/AIDS. There’s very effective
therapy and that keeps those sort of fungal infections at bay. But one of the
difficulties in medical mycology is zones of the world,
areas where there is very large endemic burdens, are often the same areas which
are very impoverished poor parts of the world and medical resources are limited.
Sometimes effective drugs are not available in those parts of the of the
world and so there’s a lot to be done politically, as well as medically, to get
on top of this on a global scale.

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