What to know about Candida auris, an emerging cause of hospital-acquired infections – Post Bulletin

ROCHESTER – In the United States, cases of Candida auris infections in health care settings have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to surveillance data recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While experts say C. auris, a type of yeast, poses little threat to the general public, C. auris infections can be difficult to treat because they are resistant to certain treatments.

“The first cases were detected in the United States in 2016,” said Laura Tourdot, senior epidemiologist with the Minnesota Department of Health’s Healthcare-Associated Infections Section. “It is primarily associated with healthcare-associated infections.”

C. auris can colonize or live on human skin. If the average person comes into contact with C. auris, infection is unlikely — Tourdot said the general population is healthy enough to clear the fungus from their skin.

“These are opportunistic infections,” Tourdot said. “They find a susceptible host, which are usually people who are at higher levels of care.”

This is why many cases of C. auris in the United States have been discovered in health care settings – people who are already sick or at risk of infection are most at risk of developing C. auris infection in their bloodstream, urine or any other part of their body. their body.

“In general, most people infected with Candida auris have a host of other underlying conditions, so it can be difficult to even detect that they are sick with Candida auris,” Tourdot said.

Although the risk of C. auris infections has increased nationwide, Minnesota remains in a strong position. Tourdot said Minnesota identified its first C. auris infection in 2019, and it was the only infection found in the state so far. Five other cases of C. auris colonization — where it was present on a patient’s skin, but not causing infection — were found across the state. MDH did not disclose where these cases of colonization and infection were found.

“One of the most important things to note is that all of the cases were reported in patients who were either exposed to international health care or health care in areas of the United States with documented transmission. “, said Tourdot. “Each case was identified, we investigated thoroughly afterwards, and we have never seen any documented spread of Candida auris in Minnesota.”

Overall, Tourdot said C. auris poses a very low risk to the general public in Minnesota. There are, however, ways to prevent infection if you are visiting someone in a hospital or nursing home, or spending time in the hospital yourself.

“If you’re visiting someone in a healthcare facility, be sure to perform good hand hygiene before entering the building, after leaving the building,” Tourdot said. “If you are even hospitalized for a short time, observe your surroundings. If you see a health care provider not washing their hands, it is your right – speak up to encourage these health care providers (to to be safe). “

And MDH has issued guidelines for healthcare facilities to follow to prevent the spread of C. auris, Tourdot said. In 2019, MDH recommended that acute care facilities screen patients who received healthcare outside of the United States or in areas of the country where C. auris transmission has occurred during the last year.

“We released updated recommendations in 2021,” Tourdot said. “We’ve worked with many facilities to get their onboard admission screening…so as soon as a person is detected to have Candida auris, they can be put on transmission-based precautions.”

A spokesperson told the Post Bulletin that the Mayo Clinic is following CDC infection control guidelines at its facilities regarding C. auris.

Dené K. Dryden is the health reporter for the Post Bulletin. She previously covered the southeast Minnesota region for the Post Bulletin. Dené is a graduate of Kansas State University, where she cut her teeth working for the student newspaper, Kansas State Collegian, and student radio station, Wildcat 91.9. Readers can reach Dené at 507-281-7488 and [email protected].

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