Learning With: ‘A Mysterious Infection, Spanning the Globe in a Climate of Secrecy’

Learning With: ‘A Mysterious Infection, Spanning the Globe in a Climate of Secrecy’

2. Why is the fungus C. auris so tenacious and so difficult to eradicate, according to the article?

3. Explain, in your own words, how the overuse of antibiotics can lead to drug-resistant bacteria and fungi like C. auris? How do germs evolve defenses to survive modern medicines?

4. Who is most vulnerable to “superbugs” and why?

5. How many people in the United States contract resistant infections annually and how many die? Without sharply curbing the unnecessary use of antibiotics and without more effective new medicines to fight resistant infections, how many global fatalities are projected, according to one study commissioned by the British government?

6. What theories about the growth and spread of C. auris have health experts proposed? Which do you find most persuasive?

7. Why are hospitals and local governments reluctant to disclose outbreaks of drug-resistant germs? How do they respond to critics who say the public has a right to know about outbreaks?

Finally, tell us more about what you think:

— How concerned are you about Candida auris and about drug-resistant germs in general? How serious of a public health threat do you believe them to be?

— Look at the map of C. auris cases. What do you notice? What can we learn about the challenges of combating its spread and growth?

— What do you think should be done to address the dangers of drug-resistant germs? Do you think you will be more or less likely to use antibiotics after reading the article?

— Do we have a right to know when there is a drug-resistant bacterial outbreak in hospitals or in cities? Is it right for hospitals and health officials to limit information about C. auris? What is the value of an article like this one? Is it informing the public or unnecessarily scaring them?

— In a related article, “In a Poor Kenyan Community, Cheap Antibiotics Fuel Deadly Drug-Resistant Infections,” Andrew Jacobs and Matt Richtel write:

Antibiotics, the miracle drugs credited with saving tens of millions of lives, have never been more accessible to the world’s poor, thanks in large part to the mass production of generics in China and India. Across much of the developing world, it costs just a few dollars to buy drugs like amoxicillin, a first-line antibiotic that can be used against a broad range of infections, from bacterial pneumonia and chlamydia to salmonella, strep throat and Lyme disease.

Kibera residents are prodigious consumers of antibiotics. One study found that 90 percent of households in Kibera had used antibiotics in the previous year, compared with about 17 percent for the typical American family. …

Antibiotic resistance is a global threat, but it is often viewed as a problem in rich countries, where comfortably insured patients rush to the doctor to demand prescriptions at the slightest hint of a cough or cold.

In fact, urban poverty is a huge and largely unappreciated driver of resistance. And so, the rise of resistant microbes is having a disproportionate impact on poor countries, where squalid and crowded living conditions, lax oversight of antibiotic use and a scarcity of affordable medical care are fueling the spread of infections increasingly unresponsive to drugs.

What new information about the global threat of drug-resistant germs did you learn? What does this show you about the interconnectedness of the problem and possible solutions?