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Resistance undermines treatment of fungal infections

Pathogenic fungi are increasingly resistant to antifungal drugs (antimycotics). This makes it more difficult to treat fungal infections and makes these infections more deadly to people with a weakened immune system. The problems related to resistant fungi are similar to those related to antimicrobial resistance, but effective policy is lacking. The Health Council of the Netherlands is advising the government to combat antifungal resistance.

Resistance develops when antimycotics are used for too long or too often. Some species of fungi become resistant because they are exposed to agricultural fungicides in their environment. These fungicides contain substances that are closely related to the substances in antimycotics. People can inhale traces of these resistant fungi. At the same time, new resistant fungal species are entering the Netherlands from abroad. Due to an ageing population and increasing use of immunosuppressants, the group of people at risk of contracting a severe fungal infection is growing.

The Health Council recommends aligning the approach to antifungal resistance with existing policies on antimicrobial resistance. A proactive approach could slow down the development of antifungal resistance significantly, just as it did for antimicrobial resistance.