With more than 46,021 cases per day, COVID-19 remains a real and current threat, allowing other opportunistic pathogens to prey on a dysregulated immune system. In late 2022, the WHO stated that fungal pathogens are becoming increasingly common and resistant to treatment, with few therapeutics in the clinical pipeline — posing a major risk to public health.
Recent research has linked the fungus Candida to COVID-19, suggesting that this pathogen, in particular, may have more influence on our lives than we realize. In the study, researchers found that the SARS-Cov-2 virus affects immune cell function and communication, allowing Candida to take hold of the body, increasing health complications and severe illness.
Candida already exists in the body in small amounts. But if it multiplies too rapidly or becomes overgrown, it can cause two types of infections, candidiasis and candidemia. Candidiasis can affect almost any part of your body. Usually, it's found in the mucous membranes and skin (in the mouth, genitals, etc.), but the infection can get into your bloodstream and cause a condition called candidemia — one of the most common bloodstream infections in the United States.
The health complications associated with the uncontrolled growth of these fungi depend on which one is present. The most infectious species to humans are Candida albicans, Candida glabrata, Candida parapsilosis, Candida tropicalis and Candida krusei, and more currently, the emerging species in certain parts of the world: Candida auris.
Immunocompromised individuals or those with a pre-existing condition are more likely to be co-infected with SARS-CoV-2 and Candida albicans. This includes people with HIV/AIDS, patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments, people taking certain medications for long periods, and people with diabetes or other autoimmune disorders affecting their immune systems. Pregnant women also face an elevated risk due to changes in their hormone levels during pregnancy.
While Candida albicans can cause treatable superficial infections, like oral thrush, it can also cause serious infections in your blood and other organs. For example, researchers are currently examining the link between Candida albicans, COVID-19, and Endocarditis — a condition of the inner lining of your heart, which includes the heart chambers and valves.
If you're currently dealing with a Candida infection and/or have symptoms of a respiratory illness, consult your healthcare provider about a robust diagnostic panel. Flow Health provides a comprehensive pathogenic panel for the early detection of 52 pathogens, including SARS-COV-2, flu A/B, and fungal species: C. albicans, C. glabrata, C. krusei, and C. tropicalis. As Omicron's subvariants and the flu continue to co-circulate, it's important to test for all pathogens for proper diagnosis and treatment.
For more information on our Respiratory Pathogen Panel, contact Cs@flowhealth.com.
*This product is for Research Use Only (RUO).