by L.D. Ramirez (info sourced from an Ars Technica article by Beth Mole)
Candida auris is an emerging fungus that presents a serious global health threat.
First identified in 2009 in Japan, Candida auris has an unusual ability to lurk and kill in healthcare settings. It presents as a blood infection in vulnerable patients and causes sereve illness, marked by nondescript fever and chills. It’s commonly resistant to multiple drugs, and some isolates have been found to resist all three classes of antifungal drugs, making it extremely difficult to cure.
Experts estimate that C. auris infections have a fatality rate somewhere between 30% and 60%. It’s hard to say for sure because many of its victims are seriously ill before they get infected, making it tricky to determine an individual cause afterward.
Researchers have found it loitering on hospital mattresses, furniture, sinks, and medical equipment, but haven't determined how it got there. The dominant hypothesis is that the fungus spreads by shedding off of infected patients’ skin - this would be a relatively easy explanation for how it scatters in healthcare facilities.
Once it is present, it’s a tough bug to annihilate. The fungal cells can form tight, hardy clumps that can live on plastics for at least two weeks and can go into a metabolically dormant phase for a month.
Single cases of C. auris have been reported from Austria, Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Iran, Norway, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates. Multiple cases of C. auris have been reported from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Venezuela. In some of these countries, extensive transmission of C. auris has been documented in more than one hospital.
People who have been diagnosed with C. auris should:
- avoid touching any areas of broken skin or wound dressings
- ensure that they wash their hands or use an alcohol-based hand rub, particularly after:
- using the toilet,
- before eating food, and
- whenever they leave their hospital room.
Visitors to patients infected with C. auris should practice good hand hygiene and ensure they wash their hands or use alcohol-based hand rub before and after touching patients or any items around the bedside.
For more information on C. auris, please visit this page