Recent media reports have called attention to Candida auris, a fungus which was first discovered in a woman’s ear canal in a Japanese hospital in 20091 and has since spread across the globe, landing in the United States four years ago as a new cause of healthcare-associated infections.2 According to the CDC, C. auris is an emerging pathogen that presents a serious global health threat due to frequent resistance to antifungal drugs, causing severe illness in patients, patients remaining carriers of the organism, and its’ ability to survive on environmental surfaces for an extended period of time.3
To date, C. auris has infected nearly 800 people4 in the U.S. and has only been documented in hospitals and long-term care facilities,5,6 where severely ill patients may be connected to invasive devices such as catheters or breathing tubes, are often on multiple antibiotics, and are susceptible to infection. Based on recent reporting by the New York Times, these facilities are directly connected to the spread in New York, where public health officials state nearly 400 people are known to be infected and another 496 are carriers without symptoms.7
The symptoms of C. auris vary because patients who have them are often already hospitalized with another serious condition. As a result, C. auris infections are difficult to diagnose without testing.8 C. auris can spread in healthcare settings through contact with contaminated environmental surfaces or equipment, or from person-to-person.9
The role of surface disinfection in prevention
In healthcare settings, it’s critical that the patient’s environment and reusable equipment is routinely cleaned and disinfected with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered hospital-grade disinfectant with demonstrated efficacy against C. auris or a higher level of efficacy against bacterial spores, such as a C. difficile (see List K).10 Follow all manufacturers’ directions for use of the surface disinfectant, including applying for the correct contact time. Quaternary ammonium compounds that are typically used for disinfection may not be effective against C. auris, but some non-sporicidal disinfectants were capable of a substantial reduction (>4 log reduction) in laboratory testing.11
For the latest information on Candida auris, visit the CDC website.