Deadly Fungal Infection, Candida auris, Spreading Rapidly

  • 06 Feb 2024

Candida auris, a deadly fungal infection, is rapidly spreading in the United States, with four recent cases reported in Washington State.

  • Despite its rarity, medical experts warn of its high fatality rate, drug resistance, and ease of transmission in healthcare settings.

Key Points

  • Characteristics and Risks: The pathogen primarily affects individuals with weakened immune systems and shows resistance to several commonly used antifungal medications. Patients with medical devices like feeding tubes, breathing tubes, or catheters are particularly vulnerable.
  • Symptoms: According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Candida auris can cause infections in various body parts such as the bloodstream, open wounds, and ears. Symptoms depend on the site and severity of the infection, sometimes resembling those of bacterial infections.
  • Transmission and Control Measures: The fungus can colonize the skin and other body sites without causing illness, allowing it to be transmitted to others.
  • This colonization can lead to the spread of Candida auris onto surfaces or objects, posing a risk to other patients.
  • Proper infection control measures are crucial in managing Candida auris cases, including isolating colonized or infected patients, using appropriate disinfectants, and adhering to strict hand hygiene protocols.
  • Global Threat: The incidence of Candida auris has surged in recent years, with 2,377 reported cases in 2022 compared to just 53 in 2016.
  • Its rapid spread across most US states and 40 countries has led the CDC and World Health Organization to recognize it as an escalating global threat. In 2021 alone, the fungus infected 1,471 individuals, according to CDC data.