New Severe Infection: What Is Candida Auris?


Jojo Ming

Candida auris is an emerging yeast strain that is increasingly concerning in the field of public health. This yeast, belonging to the Candida genus, was first identified in 2009 in Japan. Since then, it has spread worldwide, causing severe infections in hospitalized patients.

I. Biology of Candida Auris

Candida auris is a yeast of the Candida genus, which includes many different species, some of which are commensal (normally present in the human body), and others are pathogenic. Here are some important features of Candida auris biology:

Morphology: Candida auris has a morphology similar to other yeasts in the Candida genus. It appears as round or oval cells, often clustered in groups. Antifungal Resistance: A particularly concerning characteristic of Candida auris is its resistance to antifungals, including commonly used medications for yeast infections, such as azoles and amphotericin B. This resistance makes treating the infection more challenging. Survival in the Environment: Candida auris can survive for extended periods in the hospital environment, including on surfaces and medical equipment. This contributes to its transmission from one patient to another. Different Strains: Several strains of Candida auris have been identified, each with slightly different drug resistance profiles. This variability complicates the treatment and management of infections. II. Risk Factors for Candida Auris Infections

Candida auris infections primarily affect hospitalized patients, especially those who are critically ill or immunocompromised. Risk factors for Candida auris infections include:

Hospitalization: Candida auris infections are primarily associated with prolonged hospital stays. The yeast can spread rapidly in healthcare settings. Intensive Care: Patients in intensive care, especially those on mechanical ventilation, are at higher risk due to frequent use of catheters and other invasive medical devices. Weakened Immunity: Patients with weakened immune systems, whether due to cancer, organ transplantation, or HIV/AIDS, are more likely to develop Candida auris infections. Antifungal Exposure: Repeated use of antifungal medications can promote the development of drug-resistant strains of Candida auris, especially in patients with recurrent candidiasis. III. Symptoms of Candida Auris Infections

Candida auris infections can lead to various symptoms, although some infected patients may not exhibit any obvious signs of infection. Symptoms can vary depending on the site of infection but generally include:

Bloodstream Infection: Symptoms may include fever, chills, low blood pressure, increased heart rate, and muscle pain. Lung Infection: A lung infection can cause a cough, difficulty breathing, and chest pain. Urinary Tract Infections: Urinary tract infections with Candida auris may result in painful or burning urination, increased urinary frequency, and cloudy urine. Skin and Wound Infections: Candida auris skin infections typically manifest as a rash, itching, and irritation. Ear Infection: An ear infection with Candida auris can cause ear pain, temporary hearing loss, and ear discharge. Intra-Abdominal Infection: Intra-abdominal infections may lead to abdominal pain, fever, and vomiting. IV. Diagnosis of Candida Auris Infections

Early and accurate diagnosis of Candida auris infections is essential for effective treatment and to prevent the yeast’s spread. Diagnostic methods include:

Fungal Culture: A sample from the suspected site of infection is taken and cultured in the laboratory to identify the presence of Candida auris. This method also helps determine sensitivity to antifungal drugs. Microscopic Examination: Using a microscope, samples can be examined for the presence of characteristic yeast. Molecular Biology Tests: DNA-based tests are increasingly used to rapidly diagnose Candida auris infections as they can identify the specific strain and drug resistance. Genome Sequencing: This advanced technique allows for sequencing the yeast’s genome, which can aid in determining drug resistance and tracking outbreaks. V. Treatment of Candida Auris Infections

Treating Candida auris infections is complex due to its resistance to antifungals. The choice of treatment will depend on the specific strain and its drug sensitivity, as well as the location of the infection. Treatment options may include:

Systemic Antifungals: Despite potential resistance, systemic antifungals like echinocandins or amphotericin B may be used to treat severe Candida auris infections. Combination Therapy: In some cases, a combination of antifungal drugs may be necessary to enhance treatment effectiveness. Risk Factor Management: Managing underlying risk factors, such as the use of antibiotics or antifungals, is crucial to preventing future infections. VI. Prevention of Candida Auris Infections

Preventing Candida auris infections is a major concern for healthcare facilities and public health authorities. Prevention measures include:

Hand Hygiene: Rigorous hand hygiene by healthcare professionals is essential to prevent the transmission of Candida auris. Patient Isolation: Infected patients should be isolated in individual rooms, and contact precautions should be implemented to prevent transmission. Cleaning and Disinfection: Hospital environments should be regularly cleaned and disinfected to remove the yeast from surfaces and medical equipment. Epidemiological Surveillance: Active surveillance for Candida auris infections in healthcare facilities is essential to promptly detect cases and prevent spread. Staff Training: Healthcare staff should be trained in preventing Candida auris transmission and implementing appropriate precautions. Ongoing Research: Research on Candida auris, including its drug resistance, is crucial for developing better prevention and treatment methods.