Candida auris (C. auris)

C. auris and Sepsis

Blood poisoning is a nonspecific term used mainly by nonmedical individuals that describes, in the broadest sense, any adverse medical condition(s) due to the presence of any toxic agent in the blood. Usually, the layperson using the term blood poisoning is referring to the medical condition(s) that arise when bacteria or their products (or both) reach the blood. Blood poisoning is not a medical term and does not appear in many medical dictionaries or scientific publications. However, when it is used, the correct medical term that most closely matches its intended meaning is sepsis. Many medical authors consider the terms blood poisoning and sepsis to be interchangeable, but the trend in the medical literature is to use the term sepsis.

Candida auris (C. auris) facts*

*C. auris facts by

  • Candida auris (C. auris) is a yeast-like fungus related to Candida albicans. It was first described as a pathogen in 2009 when isolated from a patient with an ear infection in Japan. The fungus causes invasive infections with a high death rate (about 57%) and causes mainly bloodstream, wound, and ear infections.
  • The CDC considers C. auris to be an emerging pathogen that is invasive and multiply drug-resistant in contrast to other fungal diseases related to Candida spp.; also, C. auris is usually associated in outbreaks in health-care settings like hospitals.
  • Signs and symptoms of C. auris include
    • fever and chills while on antimicrobial medication,
    • sepsis,
    • isolation of Candida-like yeast from the patient's blood, and
    • little or no patient response or improvement with conventional antifungal therapy.
  • Coma, organ failure (as the infection spreads to multiple organs), and death may occur if appropriate treatment is delayed.
  • C. auris is difficult to diagnose by routine fungal cultures of blood or other body fluids. Special sophisticated molecular methods are needed to identify the fungus, and not all laboratories are able to identify this organism.
  • People at risk are usually in health-care settings and have undergone recent surgery, have a central venous catheter, have diabetes, and/or have undergone broad-spectrum antibiotic and/or antifungal therapy. These fungal infections have been found in all age groups.
  • A review of Candida strains and species found the first strain was cultured but not named in 1996 in South Korea.
  • C. auris was named because it was a yeast-like fungus with biologic properties that fit into the genus Candida and was first isolated as an infectious agent from a patient's ear (auris means "ear" in Latin).
  • Infections have occurred globally in Japan, South Korea, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Kenya, Kuwait, Israel, Venezuela, Colombia, the United Kingdom, Canada, and in the United States. The CDC speculates the organisms are in other countries that probably cannot identify the fungi because of the specialized laboratory methods needed to do so are not available.
  • DNA studies of C. auris globally suggest that strains of this fungus, although similar, emerged independently in world regions at about the same time.
  • C. auris may be weakly contagious. The CDC is continuing studies about the contagiousness of this organism as it has been found on the skin of several patients and on other surfaces in the patient's rooms.
  • The CDC reports that, in the U.S., seven individuals have been identified as infected from May 2013 to August 2016 in four states (Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York) with four deaths. Since August 2016, an additional six individuals have been identified. All patients had serious underlying medical problems.
  • If you suspect you have a C. auris infection, contact a medical caregiver immediately; doctors who are specialists in fungal diseases (infectious-disease specialists) should be consulted -- other specialists who may treat these patients may include critical-care specialists, hospitalists, infection-control personnel, and CDC specialists.
  • C. auris infections are treatable with certain antifungal drugs (for example, echinocandins). However, the drug(s) of choice depend on which drugs the fungus is susceptible; this requires a positive identification of the C. auris infecting strain and laboratory determination of the strain's drug susceptibility. Some clinicians prefer to use more than one antifungal drug to treat these multiple drug-resistant invasive organisms.
  • C. auris spread, according to the CDC, is likely due to contact with contaminated surfaces or equipment or even possibly by direct physical person-to-person contact, but the CDC is still gathering the data on the spread of this disease as some people may be carriers this fungus for many months.
  • Prevention of C. auris spread is detailed in the CDC's infection-control publications and the CDC encourages environmental cleaning with an EPA-registered hospital-grade disinfectant that is effective against fungi.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/4/2016

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