Fungus Among Us– A “New” Drug-Resistant Fungus is Invading Healthcare Facilities
Before 2009 you would have never heard of Candida auris (C. auris). This relatively new fungus is spreading primarily in healthcare facilities such as assisted living and hospital settings, causing deadly infections and illness in humans. It is especially dangerous to elderly and immunocompromised patients but can also affect healthy people. Per the CDC, C. auris is spreading at an “alarming rate” and is an “urgent threat”.
Who is at greatest risk?
- C. auris poses the greatest threat to people with compromised immune systems such as nursing home patients and cancer patients. Patients in hospital settings with invasive medical devices or who are enduring extended stays are also at risk.
Why is it so dangerous?
- Identification is often difficult, resulting in misidentification or mismanagement of treatment.
- C. auris can be carried on a patient’s skin and is often asymptomatic. Patients sick with other diseases may not exhibit symptoms unique to C. auris and thus get overlooked.
- C. auris has been found to be drug-resistant, which means once identified, patients have a more difficult time fighting the fungus.
- C. auris spreads quickly and easily due to a coupling of the aforementioned reasons.
What can be done?
- Proper laboratory screening is vital to detecting and mitigating the spread. Screening new patients to nursing and assisted living facilities and those who have transferred from a hospital will be especially important. Partnered laboratories should be able to provide fast turnaround times.
- Deep cleaning hospital and nursing home settings regularly and especially in the presence of afflicted patients will be beneficial in reducing the spread. The fungus can live on surfaces for weeks, so wipe down surfaces and medical equipment thoroughly with proper disinfectants. Staff should practice frequent hand washing.
We can take bold measures and strategic steps to reduce the global impact of Candida Auris by better sanitation practices in medical facilities and screenings of new patients to detect the presence of the fungus. If your facility needs a lab with expertise in testing for C. auris, we provide quicker turnaround times with greater lab capacity than most local labs. Contact us to learn more. Our lab experts are standing by ready to assist.
References: The Washington Post, CDC, University of Mississippi Medical Center