The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported “superbug” outbreaks with patients that had invasive fungal infections that were impervious to all three major classes of medications. The fungus, Candida auris, is a harmful form of yeast that is dangerous to nursing home residents. Candida auris is difficult to detect and to control. The deadly fungus can colonize in residents’ skin, and live on surfaces for a month. It is most deadly when it enters the bloodstream, heart or brain.
10% of patients infected with Candida auris are likely to develop fatal invasive infections. Mortality rates in the United States range from 22% to 57%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC published guidance for detecting colonized Candida auris in healthcare facilities.
U.S. investigators announced the discovery of several cases of the fungal infection that didn’t respond to available treatments. These “pan-resistant” cases appeared in clusters of infected U.S. nursing home residents and hospital patients in early 2021.
The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) states prevention is the best available strategy for keeping infections from embedding in nursing homes and hospitals. “Strong infection prevention programs are especially important in nursing homes where clusters of C. auris have already been discovered and where infection prevention and control resources have been lacking,” APIC said.
“Time is of the essence because we may soon run out of options to treat infected patients,” the organization said in a statement.
Facility operators must plan now. Prevention is the key. Facilities must deploy safe infection prevention programs. Prevention involves screening and early identification. Infection control must include cleaning and testing of surfaces to ensure that rooms are clear. Clinicians treating infected residents and patients should conduct antifungal susceptibility testing.