After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the possible transmission of pan-resistant Candida auris in the U.S., the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) is urging healthcare facilities to implement aggressive infection prevention and control measures to ensure this pathogen does not become embedded in U.S. healthcare settings in a press release.
C. auris is a type of fungus that causes severe, often fatal infections. It can be carried on a patient’s skin and can survive on surfaces for more than a month, allowing it to spread easily among healthcare patients. Many hospital disinfectants can’t kill C. auris, making it difficult to eradicate from the healthcare environment. It is also difficult to identify in lab tests. Treatment options are limited to just three classes of antifungals, and there are strains that are resistant to all three.
With few ways to treat it, preventing C. auris from spreading is our best and only option. Healthcare facilities must deploy robust infection prevention programs, which include proper staffing of dedicated professionals known as infection preventionists, to guide infection prevention and control efforts.
Strong infection prevention programs are especially important in nursing homes where clusters of C. auris have already been discovered and where infection prevention and control resources have been lacking.
According to the CDC, mortality rates attributable to invasive C. auris infection range from 30% to 59% globally, and from 22% to 57% in the U.S.
Healthcare facilities should deploy resources to screen patients for C. auris so they can identify people who may be infected or colonized and implement the necessary infection prevention and control measures before further transmission occurs.
Prevention of C. auris, and in particular pan-resistant strains, involves early identification, rigorous infection control including cleaning and testing of environmental surfaces to ensure that patient rooms are clear of the organism, and coordinated communication between laboratory staff, clinical staff and among facilities.
Clinicians should conduct antifungal susceptibility testing in patients with C. auris infection, especially in those with treatment failure. Healthcare facilities should promptly alert state or local health departments to new cases and refer to CDC guidance for clinicians and infection control personnel.