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Candida auris—A new threat to patients

7/14/2016

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an alert to healthcare providers because patients in several countries have been infected with Candida auris, a fungus that can lead to invasive diseases.  

Candida auris is concerning public health officials for three reasons:

  1. This strain is multidrug-resistant, meaning there are only limited types of drugs that can treat this infection.
  2. It has a high death rate in hospitalized patients and spreads quickly. 
  3. It can be hard to diagnose in the standard hospital laboratory; this means that cases could be missed and untreated.

Where has Candida auris been found?

Candida auris has been found in patients in South Korea, India, South Africa, Kuwait, Columbia, Venezuela, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom. Although the strains are similar within a country, special testing has shown that they are not the same between continents. No one is sure why we are seeing Candida auris in many different locations, but this means it is unlikely that the germ has spread across continents.

How does Candida auris spread? 

Although scientists are still studying the way this germ spreads, it appears to occur primarily in hospitalized patients. People traveling to countries where Candida auris has been found are not at increased risk. Within hospitals, the germ appears to be spread from contaminated surfaces and equipment, like blood pressure cuffs, and from person to person.

What types of complications are caused by Candida auris?

One of the first infections reported with Candida auris was an ear infection. It can also cause bloodstream infections and wound infections. It can be found in respiratory secretions and urine, but scientists don’t yet know if this leads to infections in the bladder or lungs. 

Who is at risk?

Patients with diabetes mellitus, patients who have had a recent surgery, patients who have recently taken antibiotics or antifungal drugs, and patients who have a special type of intravenous catheter are at increased risk for Candida auris infections.

What are hospitals and healthcare providers doing to stop the spread of Candida auris?

The CDC recommends taking specific actions to prevent the spread of Candida auris:

  • Before and after coming into contact with hospitalized patients, staff and visitors should clean their hands at all appropriate times.
  • Staff and visitors should wear personal protective equipment (e.g., gloves, gowns) before they go into hospitalized patients’ rooms.
  • Surfaces and equipment should be disinfected with a chemical that can kill fungi.
  • Staff and visitors should cover their coughs and sneezes with their elbows. 

 

The CDC is working with public health departments, hospitals, and laboratories to identify and prevent the spread of Candida auris.

 

 

Additional resources
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—Clinical Alert to U.S. Healthcare Facilities - Global Emergence of Invasive Infections Caused by the Multidrug-Resistant Yeast Candida auris
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—Candida auris questions and answers
GOV.UK—The characteristics, diagnosis and management of Candida auris (C. auris)

 

 

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