Fungal infections that are often poorly diagnosed worldwide causes doctors to over-prescribe antibiotics, increasing harmful resistance to antimicrobial drugs, resulting in 1.5 million deaths a year, according to a study.
Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, according to the World Health Organization.
The study showed that inadequate attention by physicians to fungal infection is the major cause failure of antibacterial treatment.
“If we’re trying to deliver globally on a comprehensive plan to prevent antimicrobial resistance and we’re treating blindly for fungal infections that we don’t know are present with antibiotics, then we may inadvertently be creating greater antibiotic resistance,” said lead author David Perlin, Rutgers University in New Jersey, US.
Fungal infections, often undiagnosed, result in 1.5 million deaths a year, said researchers from the Global Action Fund for Fungal Infections (GAFFI) - a Britain-based organisation to promote global awareness of fungal disease.
“Fungal disease diagnostics are critical in the AMR fight and will improve survival from fungal disease across the world,” added David Denning, Professor at the University of Manchester.
Inexpensive, rapid diagnostic tests are available for important fungal infections but are not being widely used.
Better training is needed to encourage health care practitioners to test for fungal infections so the correct drugs are administered.
Paying closer attention to underlying fungal infections is necessary to reduce drug resistance, Perlin said.
The study was published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.