Of Rice and Men: How Food Production is Driving Antimicrobial Resistance amongst Fungi in Vietnam


Fungal infections are amongst the leading infectious disease killers globally. They result in more deaths than malaria, and almost as many as tuberculosis. However, they are often overlooked, and receive less research attention and funding than viral or bacterial infections. Over the past decade, this has started to change as the emergence of resistance in fungal pathogens has caused global alarm. New, resistant organisms have emerged, and old familiar ones have become harder to treat - agricultural antifungal use is thought to be driving these trends.

Dr Justin Beardsley spoke to Dr Natali Pearson about the problem of resistant fungal infections in Vietnam, describing how agricultural practices are contributing, and what can be done to mitigate the risks.

Justin is a New Zealand trained infectious disease specialist and clinical researcher. From 2012 to 2017, he was based in the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Ho Chi Minh City, where he was focused on fungal infections. There, he conducted a multinational randomised clinical trial into adjunctive steroid therapy for Cryptococcal Meningitis in Southeast Asia and Africa, alongside other work on the epidemiology of fungal infections, immune responses in Cryptococcal Meningitis, pharmacokinetics of anti-fungal drugs in the central nervous system, and temporal trends in cryptococcal drug susceptibility. His current research focuses on the emergence of anti-fungal drug resistance, especially in Southeast Asia.

You can follow Justin on Twitter: @_jbeardsley_.

For more information or to browse additional resources, visit the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre’s website: www.sydney.edu.au/sseac.

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Natali Pearson

Dr Natali Pearson is Curriculum Coordinator at the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, a university-wide multidisciplinary center at the University of Sydney, Australia. Her research focuses on the protection, management and interpretation of underwater cultural heritage in Southeast Asia.

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