The latest news about the fungus Candida auris highlights its emergence in King County, Washington. Public health officials have identified the first known outbreak of this fungus at Kindred Hospital Seattle – First Hill, a long-term acute care hospital. Four patients have been reported to have colonization with C. auris, and proactive measures are being taken to manage and control the outbreak. The health officials are urging other healthcare facilities to screen patients who have been admitted to Kindred Hospital since October 1, 2023, and potentially even those who have been there since June 2023. This fungus is not a threat to healthy individuals but poses significant risks to those in healthcare settings, particularly those with weakened immune systems or who are in long-term acute care. The situation is being closely monitored, and efforts are underway to prevent further spread.
Candida auris is a highly transmissible and often multidrug-resistant fungus, first identified in Japan in 2009, and has been causing concern due to its alarming spread rate in U.S. healthcare facilities. It’s known for its resistance to three classes of antifungal drugs and can cause invasive infections in vulnerable patients, with case-fatality rates ranging from 30% to 40%. The fungus has been a growing concern for infection control in healthcare settings, with its ability to persist on surfaces for extended periods and resist common cleaning agents, posing challenges for decontamination efforts. Research is ongoing to understand why certain strains of C. auris are particularly sticky, drug-resistant, and how they can accumulate resistance mutations without losing their ability to multiply.