Candida Auris: A Spreading Infection
Candidiasis is a fungal infection caused by yeasts that belong to the genus Candida. There are over 20 species of Candida yeasts that can cause infection in humans. These yeasts normally reside in the intestinal tract and on mucous membranes and skin without causing infection. The most common type is Candida albicans.
Candida auris, a potentially fatal yeast infection, was first identified in 2009 in Japan. Since that time, this emerging fungus has been found in many countries, including the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is concerned about C. auris for three reasons:
It is often multi-drug-resistant, meaning that it is resistant to multiple anti-fungal drugs commonly used to treat yeast infections.
It is difficult to identify with standard laboratory methods, and it can be misidentified in labs without specific technology.
It has caused outbreaks in healthcare settings.
Update: 3-31-19: 643 cases with an additional 1,123 colonized patients.
As of February 28, 2019, CDC reports 617 cases in the U.S. An additional 1,056 patients have been found to be colonized with C. auris in seven states with clinical cases. (Colonization means a person has the fungus on their body but does not have an infection or symptoms of infection.)
October 31, 2018: 457 cases
On August 31, 2017, 153 cases
June 2016: CDC alerts healthcare facilities be on the lookout for C. auris in patients
C. auris can spread person-to-person, by physical contact, or by touching contaminated objects. In some patients, it can enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body, causing serious infections. Patients who have been hospitalized a long time, have tubes entering their body, or have previously received antibiotics or anti-fungal medications appear to be at highest risk of infection.
C. auris has caused bloodstream infections, wound infections, and ear infections. It also has been isolated from respiratory and urine specimens, but it is unclear if it causes infections in the lung or bladder.
Based on information from a limited number of patients, 30–60% of people with C. auris infections have died. However, many of these people had other serious illnesses that also increased their risk of death.
CDC and public health partners are working hard to better understand C. auris and answer the following questions so that we can continue to help protect people from this serious infection:
Why is C. auris resistant to anti-fungal medicines?
Why did C. auris start causing infections in recent years?
Where did C. auris originally come from, and why has it appeared in many regions of the world at the same time?
What can I do to help keep C. auris from spreading?
Patients and family members should clean their hands thoroughly before and after touching each other or the area around the patient, particularly when leaving a patient’s room.
Although the risk of C. auris infection in otherwise healthy people is low, patients and their family members should continue practicing good hand hygiene when returning home.