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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

Emerging Fungus Spreads Far and Wide in Hospitals

By Gary Evans, Medical Writer

As multidrug resistant Candida auris continues to emerge in the United States, a new report on hospital outbreaks in Colombia underscores how the emerging pathogen can contaminate the healthcare environment.

“We knew beforehand it can be in the patient’s immediate vicinity, such as the bed, mattress, and the handrails,” says lead author of the study Nancy A. Chow, PhD, an investigator in the mycotic diseases branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “But we found it on floors, in mop buckets, on alcohol gel dispensers, and various pieces of equipment.”

The article was in press as this blog was posted. Not only can C. auris spread well beyond the patient care areas, it is exceedingly difficult to eradicate once in the healthcare environment. This fungus appears to be impervious to standard hospital-grade quaternary compound disinfectants, leading the CDC to recommend sporicidals strong enough to kill Clostridium difficile.

CDC investigators assisted colleagues in Colombia in trying to determine how widely dispersed the pathogen is during outbreaks. Of more than 300 environmental samples collected, 37 (11%) were positive for C. auris. Again, a pathogen capable of causing a 40% mortality rate in high-risk patients who acquire blood stream infections was found on surfaces and objects far and wide.

Candida auris is capable of extensive contamination,” Chow says. “This is all the more reason to promote aggressive infection control practices and proper disinfection strategies in the U.S.”

For more on this story see the July 2018 issue of Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.