The drug-resistant fungus, Candida Auris, was only discovered 10 years ago but is now one of the world’s most feared hospital microbes. There have been outbreaks across the world, and new research shows that global warming may have increased its prevalence...
Candida Auris (C. Auris) is a yeast, a type of fungus, which can cause infections in humans. It is related to the very common Candida albicans, which causes thrush. It was first discovered in the ear canal of a Japanese patient in Tokyo Metropolitan Geriatric Hospital in 2009.
Most of the time, Candida yeasts live on our skin without causing problems, but they can cause infections if we are unwell or they get into the wrong place, like the bloodstream or lungs.
C. Auris most frequently causes bloodstream infections, but can also infect the respiratory system, the central nervous system and internal organs, as well as the skin. These infections are usually quite serious. Around the world, up to 60% of patients who get a C. Auris infection have died. The fungus is often resistant to the usual drugs, which makes infections difficult to treat. Also, C. Auris is often mistaken for a different infection, leading to the wrong treatment being given.
This means that the patient might be ill for longer or get worse. “A number of UK hospitals have already experienced outbreaks requiring support from Public Health England,” said Dr Elaine Cloutman-Green, infection control practitioner and UCL clinical lecturer. She added: “C. Auris survives in hospital environments and so cleaning is key to control. Detection can be serious for both individual patients and for the hospital, as control can prove difficult.”
Dr Colin Brown, consultant medical microbiologist for Public Health England’s national infection service, said: “NHS hospitals that have experienced outbreaks of C. Auris have not found it to be the cause of death in any patients.
“PHE is working closely with the NHS to provide expert support and advice on infection control measures to limit the spread of C. Auris.”