In the US state of Washington, officials have reported the first outbreak of Candida auris (C. auris), a deadly fungal infection that is on the rise in the US.
Candida auris can cause serious illness in humans and easily spread among patients admitted to healthcare facilities. The infection typically occurs in the bloodstream or in open wounds or ears and shows resistance to antifungal treatments.
Since 2016, cases of Candida auris have been increasing significantly in the US.
Four people in the state of Washington have tested positive for the infection since the beginning of the month. All cases originated from the Kindred Hospital Seattle First Hill. The first case was detected on January 10th as part of a regular proactive screening program involving a recently admitted patient as part of an initiative to detect infections before symptoms appear. The rest of the patients were identified through additional screening.
„This is the first known outbreak of C. auris in the state of Washington. Public Health continues to work with Kindred to contain the spread. This includes keeping patients who test positive for C. auris away from other patients to reduce the risk of spreading. The use of specific disinfectant cleaning products that are effective against C. auris. Kindred also notifies facilities that have admitted patients who were previously at Kindred, and will notify facilities that may admit patients who have tested positive for C. auris,“ said officials from Seattle and King County in a press release.
While investigations are still ongoing, officials have not yet been able to identify the original source of the infection. Identifying the source of infection for Candida auris can be a challenge, similar to many cases involving multi-drug resistant organisms.
Recognizing the Signs of Candida auris:
The signs of infection vary depending on the severity and location of the affected body part. Common symptoms include fever, chills, low blood pressure, high heart rate, fatigue, and pain or pressure in the ears.
Symptoms may go unnoticed if patients already have other severe infections. In some cases, the yeast fungus colonizes the skin and other body parts, and patients can transmit the infection without symptoms.
While Candida auris does not pose a threat to healthy individuals, there is an increased risk for people with serious underlying conditions requiring medical interventions, including the use of invasive medical devices such as breathing tubes, feeding tubes, intravenous catheters, or urinary catheters.
While Candida auris is resistant to commonly used antifungals, most cases can be treated with a class of antifungals called echinocandins. However, certain strains of C. auris are resistant to all three major classes of antifungals. In such cases, a combination of multiple antifungals or newer antifungals may be used for treatment.
Patients who show no symptoms but are colonized by C. auris should not undergo antifungal treatment, as there is no evidence that such treatment could prevent the infection.