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Drug-resistant fungus living in dogs’ ears could jump to humans, new study warns

A deadly, drug-resistant fungus which lives in dogs' ears could jump to humans and begin infecting the population, a new study has shown.

The "critical priority pathogen" was found living in the ear of man's best friend and could soon make a leap to people, potentially causing outbreaks and severe infections.

Candida auris, the yeast infection which was first found in 2009 in Japan, has been declared a "critical priority" fungal pathogen by the World Health Organisation.

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Researchers looking into Candida auris found pets could actually transfer the fungus into super bugs and in turn potentially infect humans with their ear pathogen.

Swab samples from 87 dogs housed in a Delhi, India shelter were taken, with 52 strays already under intensive care, and 35 treated for minor gastrointestinal and urinary infections.

All of the conditions found and observed were unrelated to the fungus, but analysis of the swabs revealed the ear canals were stuffed full of Candida auris.

Study author Dr Jianping Xu, a professor in the Department of Biology at McMastery University in Ontario, Canada, said the transmissions could act as "vehicles".

He said: "Dogs are common pets. Even though C. auris was only found in stray dogs in this study, there are many stray dogs in many parts of the world.

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"These dogs could act as transmission vehicles for C. auris to reach other animals and humans."

It marks a concerning shift in research into C. auris, with human infection a possibility and an immediate problem as the fungus latches onto skin scales.

Dr Xu added: "We need to be vigilant in the surveillance of dogs, other domesticated pets and wild animals in regions where C. auris is endemic.

"While C. auris spreads easily from human to human, the route of transmission among animals or from animals to humans is much less clear and further investigation is required."

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