Effectiveness of front line and emerging fungal disease prevention and control interventions and opportunities to address appropriate eco-sustainable solutions
Rowan, Neil J.
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Fungal pathogens contribute to significant disease burden globally; however, the fact that fungi are eukaryotes has greatly complicated their role in fungal-mediated infections and alleviation. Antifungal drugs are often toxic to host cells and there is increasing evidence of adaptive resistance in animals and humans. Existing fungal diagnostic and treatment regimens have limitations that has contributed to the alarming high mortality rates and prolonged morbidity seen in immunocompromised cohorts caused by opportunistic invasive infections as evidenced during HIV and COVID-19 pandemics. There is a need to develop real-time monitoring and diagnostic methods for fungal pathogens and to create a greater awareness as to the contribution of fungal pathogens in disease causation. Greater information is required on the appropriate selection and dose of antifungal drugs including factors governing resistance where there is commensurate need to discover more appropriate and effective solutions. Popular azole fungal drugs are widely detected in surface water and sediment due to incomplete removal in wastewater treatment plants where they are resistant to microbial degradation and may cause toxic effects on aquatic organisms such as algae and fish. UV has limited effectiveness in destruction of anti-fungal drugs where there is increased interest in the combination approaches such as novel use of pulsed-plasma gas-discharge technologies for environmental waste management. There is growing interest in developing alternative and complementary green eco-biocides and disinfection innovation. Fungi present challenges for cleaning, disinfection and sterilization of reusable medical devices such as endoscopes where they (example, Aspergillus and Candida species) can be protected when harboured in build-up biofilm from lethal processing. Information on the efficacy of established disinfection and sterilization technologies to address fungal pathogens including bottleneck areas that present high risk to patients is lacking. There is a need to address risk mitigation and modelling to inform efficacy of appropriate intervention technologies that must consider all contributing factors where there is potential to adopt digital technologies to enable real-time analysis of big data, such as use of artificial intelligence and machine learning. International consensus on standardised protocols for developing and reporting on appropriate alternative eco-solutions must be reached, particularly in order to address fungi with increasing drug resistance where research and innovation can be enabled using a One Health approach.
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