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Tracking Candida auris

What to know about this emerging fungal threat

February 17, 2023

Infectious disease specialists in Pennsylvania and around the nation are monitoring the potential rise of Candida auris (C. auris) and other fungal infections.

C. auris—first identified in 2009—has been identified as an emerging fungus that’s a global health threat of unknown origins. While rare, the fungus can cause serious invasive infections in patients that are hard to treat with currently available antifungal medicines.

Pennsylvania recorded a few dozen cases during 2022, according to the most recently available data from the CDC. Nevada recorded the most clinical cases (384) last year.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Challenging threat:  The fungus can thrive on surfaces, and poses an infection-prevention challenge in hospital facilities as it can persist on hospital surfaces such as linens, sinks, and patient equipment. About a third of patients with invasive C. auris infections die, the CDC reports.
  • Treatments:  C. auris is often resistant to the anti-fungal drugs used to treat Candida infections. There are some strains that are resistant to all three classes of antifungal medications.
  • Symptoms:  Common symptoms can include fever and chills that don’t improve after antibiotic treatment.
  • Preventing transmission:  Identifying patients infected or carrying the fungus, using isolation precautions in health care settings, hand hygiene with alcohol-based hand rub, EPA-registered disinfectants, and audits of infection control practices can help prevent transmission.
  • Next steps:  Be sure to contact your health care provider if you believe you have a health care-associated infection.

Research is ongoing to understand the origins of C. auris, as well as why it is resistant to antifungal medicines.

HAP continues to support Pennsylvania hospitals as they focus on infection prevention and antimicrobial stewardship. Additional information about C. auris is available online.

For additional information or questions, contact Mary T. Catanzaro, RN, BSMT (ASCP), CIC, FAPIC, project manager, infection prevention, or Lauren Geary, BS, RRT-NPS, CIC, project manager, infection prevention.