Candida auris invades hospitals while doctors say public is safe

Infectious disease professor says public shouldn’t worry, health care providers should.
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 11:13 PM CDT
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WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Ill. (WIFR) - After three years of COVID-19 stirring fear in many people across the country, Candida auris is the latest viral sickness to cause concern.

“There isn’t a specific symptom that people get,” said Dr. David Andes who is a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Wisconsin.

Even though it’s seen in nursing homes and hospitals across the country, Candida auris is not something the general public should worry about, said Andes.

“It’s not like COVID. This is something the health care providers need to be aware of,” Andes explains.

This is not the first time we’ve dealth with the Candida auris. The fungus first appeared in 2009 in Japan, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s not like a viral infection where you’re exposed to it and then predictably three days later you either get the infection or not. It’s not as simple as that,” said Andes.

The fungus is different from others because it thrives in warmer environments, like the human body.

“One-in-two to one-in-three folks that have this infection will not survive,” said Andes.

What concerns doctors most in the high death rate in immunocompromised patients who become infected and that Candida auris is resistant to several drugs.

“So we really only have one drug left. And I think the alarming thing that the CDC found is in the last couple of years, resistance to this last therapy has tripled,” said Andes.

The Winnebago County Health Department says they plan to keep a close eye on any new cases:

“WCHD is aware of the increase in multidrug-resistant cases of Candida auris (C. auris) and conducts continuous disease surveillance in our community, including for C. auris. No cases of C. auris have been reported to date in 2023 to the Winnebago County Health Department and no case of C. Auris were reported in 2022. We have had reported cases of C. Auris in past years.”

Andes says precautions are in place to prevent further spread of the fungus in doctors offices and clinics. Staff will wear gloves and gowns and wipe down all surfaces with a special cleaner.