Candida auris new 'urgent' antimicrobial resistance threat, CDC says

The CDC issued a new report Monday on the emerging fungus Candida auris. Photo by James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The CDC issued a new report Monday on the emerging fungus Candida auris. Photo by James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

March 20 (UPI) -- The growing emerging fungus Candida auris, which can cause severe infections and death in compromised patients, has become an urgent antimicrobial resistance threat, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Candida auris, also known as C. auris, spread "at an alarming rate" in U.S. healthcare facilities in 2020-2021, the CDC said in a study released Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.


In fact, the CDC cited a tripling in the number of cases that were resistant to echinocandins, in 2020. Echinocandins is the antifungal medicine most recommended for the treatment of C. auris infections.

The report said that people who are very sick, have invasive medical devices, or have long or frequent stays in healthcare facilities are at increased risk for acquiring C. auris, not is normally not a threat to healthy people.

C. auris reached urgent AR threat status because it now appears to be often resistant to multiple antifungal drugs. It can also spreads easily in healthcare facilities, and can cause severe infections with high death rates, the CDC said.

"The rapid rise and geographic spread of cases is concerning and emphasizes the need for continued surveillance, expanded lab capacity, quicker diagnostic tests, and adherence to proven infection prevention and control," CDC epidemiologist Meghan Lyman, the lead author of the study, said in a statement.


C. auris in the United States and was reported in 3,270 clinical cases in which infection is present and 7,413 screening cases in which the fungus was detected, but did not cause infection, from 2016 through the end of 2021.

"CDC has continued to see an increase in case counts for 2022," the report said. "During 2019-2021, 17 states identified their first C. auris case ever. Nationwide, clinical cases rose from 476 in 2019 to 1,471 in 2021."

Then from 2020 to 2021, screening cases ballooned to 4,041.

Some of the causes for an increase in C. auris including include poor general infection prevention and control practices in healthcare facilities, the CDC said.

Case counts also may have increased because of stronger efforts to detect the fungus, including increased testing to see if people have it on their body without having an infection or symptoms of infection.

"The timing of this increase and findings from public health investigations suggest C. auris spread may have worsened due to strain on healthcare and public health systems during the COVID-19 pandemic," the report said.

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