Candida Auris: The Fungus Threatening Healthcare Facilities

Last week, the CDC announced that cases of this fungal infection are growing significantly, especially in long-term healthcare facilities.

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The Center for Disease Control (CDC) sounded the alarm on an urgent threat for healthcare facilities. Emerging fungus Candida Auris, also called C. Auris, has seen a significant rise in cases—from 476 in 2019 to 1,471 in 2021—and has now been detected in half of U.S. states.

Last week, the Pennsylvania Department of Health released an advisory about new cases of C. Auris in a several of its healthcare facilities. According to CDC data, the state with the most reported cases in 2022 was Nevada, with 384 cases, followed by California, Florida, and New York.

The fungus, first identified in 2009 in Asia, has become a growing concern for health care facilities because immunocompromised individuals are particularly vulnerable. It can also be carried on patients’ skin without causing an infection, allowing it to spread easily to other patients. For those infected, symptoms may include fever, chills, and in some cases unstable blood pressure. The CDC found that those who contact the fungal infection have a morality rate of 30% to 60%—mostly due to the fact those likely to catch the infection are already experiencing serious conditions.

One of the most concerning elements of this fungal infection is that it is becoming more drug-resistant. Common healthcare disinfectants are less effective at eliminating it. But, research shows that the spread of this fungus can be prevented and mitigated with proper hygiene, cleaning protocols, and robust infection control plans.

Healthcare facilities have to be vigilant to stay on top of this threat and to contain it if it becomes a problem. To learn more about how to prevent a C. Auris outbreak, the CDC has a number of tips for facility managers to reference.

“Fungal pathogens are a major threat to public health as they are becoming increasingly common and resistant to treatment with only four classes of antifungal medicines currently available, and few candidates in the clinical pipeline,” said the World Health Organization (WHO) in a report from late last year. The organization has found that reports of fungal infections are increasing due to global warming, and an increase in international travel and trade.

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