Deadly Fungal Superbug and Trade War

Grind for May 27th, 2019
“Today or any day that phone may ring and bring good news.”

– Ethel Waters

Health Alert

The Headline

CDC Warns: Deadly fungal superbug is spreading

The Grind

“It’s like the creature from the black lagoon,” says Tom Chiller, head of the CDC’s fungal department. “It bubbled up and now it is everywhere.”

Mr. Chiller is describing Candida auris, a harmless yeast that in recent years has mutated into a contagious infection.

Like other superbugs, C. auris resists antibiotics and is found primarily in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. It is hard to detect and can survive on surfaces treated with hydrogen peroxide.

C. auris is life-threatening for children, the elderly, and patients with compromised immune systems. Early symptoms include: fever, fatigue, and body aches.

The Details

The CDC issued its first warning about drug-resistant C. auris in 2016 after the first case was discovered in Japan. Since then, C. auris has been reported in England, India, Spain, and Venezuela.

There have been 587 documented cases in the United States.

Distinct variations detected in strains from different regions suggest the superbug is evolving simultaneously throughout the world, rather than spreading from a single point of origin.

Some researchers blame the bacteria’s drug resistance on our use of fungicide on crops, pointing to known examples of antibiotic-resistant bacteria resulting from the overuse of antibiotics on farm animals.

“The challenge of emerging drug-resistant threats like C. auris highlights the need for an urgent, comprehensive, federal, state, local, and international public health response,” writes the CDC.

According to CDC estimates, more than one-third of C. auris strains resist two of the three antifungal drug treatments available. A smaller percentage of strains resist all treatments.

The good news is that we still have time to stop the spread of C. auris in the United States if healthcare facilities work together in following CDC guidelines – including isolation for patients with the infection as well as more thorough cleansing of patients’ rooms after discharge.

An Unexpected Gift

The Headline

Trump Administration to assist farmers hurt by trade war with China

The Grind

The Trump Administration’s prolonged trade war with China has disproportionately hurt American farmers, who are unable to meet former export quotas.

On Thursday, Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue announced a $16 billion aid package that includes opportunities for farmers to sell products in new markets. “If China’s decided not to play, then we’ll sell these great products elsewhere,” said Perdue.

Last year, the Trump Administration gave farmers $12 billion to mitigate losses.

The Grind

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the trade war with China has impacted overall US income to the tune of $1.4 billion.

The trade war began last summer with threats to impose taxes on all goods shipped from China to the US. In total, the Trump Administration has applied tariffs to $250 billion in Chinese goods and Being has applied tariffs to $110 billion in US goods.

This month, Trump increased existing tariffs on an existing $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and Beijing retaliated by increasing tariffs on $60 billion in US goods (including beef, lamb, pork, vegetables, tea, and coffee).

The newest tariffs are expected to decrease the average US household income by $831 per year.

Did you know… 50 years ago Cheerios were called Cheerioats.