21 Sep Candida auris: An Emerging Global Fungal Disease
Content provided by CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases
Antimicrobial resistance isn’t just a challenge with bacteria. Fungi can develop resistance, too.
In its 2013 Antibiotic Resistance Threats Report, CDC called attention to severe and resistant infections caused by a group of fungi called Candida. Since then, a new species, Candida auris, has emerged, far more resistant to antifungal drugs than those seen before.
C. auris is one of more than 400 species of Candida. Many people know Candida can cause mouth infections (known as thrush), vaginal infections, and diaper rashes. However, Candida also can cause invasive infections in the bloodstream, particularly in hospital or nursing home patients with weakened immune systems. About 30% of patients with an invasive Candida infection die.
What sets C. auris apart from other Candida species—aside from its high antifungal resistance rates—is its ability to spread between patients in healthcare settings and survive at least a month on surfaces. This makes C. auris a serious infection control challenge.
What CDC is Doing
- Detect & Respond: Through the AR Lab Network and HAI/AR Detect & Respond Programs, CDC is working with epidemiologists and laboratorians nationwide to rapidly find and contain the threat of C. auris across healthcare settings.
- Prevent: CDC’s infection control guidance can help providers prevent spread of C. auris.
- Innovate: Diagnostic labs can use CDC’s C. aurissamples to calibrate, or standardize, their diagnostic tests so they can accurately identify and characterize this emerging threat.
C. auris has affected hospitalized patients in more than a dozen countries on five continents since 2009. It was first detected in the United States in 2016.
Healthcare workers, patients, and family members all have a role to play in controlling the spread of C.auris as well as antifungal resistance.
Healthcare providers can learn when to suspect C. auris, how to stop it from spreading (with hand hygiene, thorough room cleaning, and using gowns and gloves), and how to treat it. Patients and their family members can clean their hands frequently and remind healthcare workers to do the same.
CDC has been working closely with international partners and U.S. health departments and healthcare facilities to control the spread of C. auris.
As scientists began detecting C. auris around the globe, they wondered how it was spreading. CDC scientists examined C. auris’s DNA using whole-genome sequencing to understand how strains were related. They found that strains from within each region were very similar but were very different between regions, suggesting that C. auris likely appeared independently in at least four areas rather than spreading from one central location. No one knows why or how this happened, but it could be related to antibiotic or antifungal use.
CDC encourages the public and healthcare providers to “Think Fungus” when a patient’s symptoms of infection are not improving with treatment. Learn more about the inaugural Fungal Disease Awareness Week, August 14-18, 2017.