The emergence of Candida auris in healthcare facilities
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a warning about an emerging and deadly strain of fungus that is spreading at an alarming rate in healthcare facilities across the United States. Candida auris, or C auris, poses a particular threat to medically fragile patients due to its resistance to antifungal medications. While the CDC does not consider C. auris a danger to healthy individuals, it has become a significant concern for hospitals and care homes.
In a report released on March 20, the CDC highlighted the urgent antimicrobial resistance threat posed by C. auris. The report indicated that the fungus has been making a measurable impact on healthcare facilities, and the rapid rise and geographic spread of cases are concerning. The agency reported an alarming rate of C. auris cases in healthcare facilities in 2020-2021, and early surveillance suggests a similar rise in 2022.
According to CDC epidemiologist Meghan Lyman, “The rapid rise and geographic spread of cases is concerning and emphasizes the need for continued surveillance, expanded lab capacity, quicker diagnostic tests, and adherence to proven infection prevention and control.” Candida auris is a form of yeast that often causes no symptoms in healthy individuals. However, the fungus poses a serious threat to patients already weakened by other conditions, triggering serious and invasive complications as it spreads into the body’s systems.
Data from the CDC shows that the number of C. auris infections tripled nationally from 476 in 2019 to 1,471 in 2021. Furthermore, cases where a person carries the fungus but is not infected almost quadrupled from 1,077 in 2019 to 4,040 in 2021. These figures indicate a worrying trend that requires immediate attention.
CDC calls for continued surveillance, expanded lab capacity, quicker diagnostic tests, and adherence to proven infection prevention and control
The rise of C. auris infections has become a significant concern for healthcare professionals across the United States. Hospitals and care homes are working hard to contain the spread of the fungus and ensure that patients receive appropriate treatment. However, the resistance of C. auris to antifungal medications is a major obstacle that healthcare professionals must overcome.
For several years after the first American cases were reported in 2016, only a few dozen Candida auris patients were reported to the CDC annually. However, cases have begun to accelerate in recent years, according to new CDC data published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The rapid rise in the number of infections is a cause for concern, and healthcare professionals must take proactive measures to prevent further spread.
If you are a healthy individual, the CDC does not consider Candida auris a danger to you. However, if you are medically fragile and require hospitalization or care in a healthcare facility, it is essential to take precautions to minimize the risk of contracting the fungus:
- Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands frequently with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Wear gloves when caring for a patient with a known or suspected Candida auris infection.
- Follow proper infection prevention and control protocols, such as wearing personal protective equipment, isolating infected patients, and disinfecting surfaces regularly.
- Notify healthcare professionals immediately if you experience any symptoms, such as fever, chills, or unusual discharge, after visiting a healthcare facility.
In conclusion, the emergence and rapid spread of Candida auris in healthcare facilities across the United States is a cause for concern. Medically fragile patients are particularly at risk due to the fungus’s resistance to antifungal medications. The CDC report emphasizes the urgent need for continued surveillance, expanded lab capacity, quicker diagnostic tests, and adherence to proven infection prevention and control. Healthcare professionals must take proactive measures to prevent further spread of the fungus, and the public should remain vigilant about their health when visiting healthcare facilities. By working together, we can minimize the impact of this deadly fungus and protect vulnerable patients from harm.