The increasing spread of the fungal pathogen Candida auris (C. auris) is causing concern in the US, according to a report.
C. auris can cause serious infections, especially in people with weakened immune systems. The yeast species was first isolated from the external ear of a patient in Japan in 2009 and has since spread to a number of countries worldwide, including the UK.
According to a Sky News report, C. auris has been detected in more than half of all US states, and the number of infections increased by 95% between 2020 and 2021.
Dr Meghan Lyman, chief medical officer of US federal agency Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, told Sky: ‘We’ve seen increases not just in areas of ongoing transmission, but also in new areas.’
CDC figures show that in the 12 months to December 2022, there were 2,377 clinical cases and 5,754 screening cases in the US.
The recent increases, Dr Lyman added, were ‘really concerning’ for the US, particularly as fungus samples were showing a higher level of resistance to common treatments.
Sporadic cases of C. auris have been identified throughout England since August 2013, according to Public Health England (PHE). Most common body sites for the fungus are the skin and urogenital tract, although it has also been found in the respiratory tract. Resulting infections include candidaemia, pericarditis, urinary tract infections and pneumonia.
Resistance to fluconazole as well as the three main classes of antifungal drugs (azoles, echinocandins and polyenes) has been noted.
PHE published guidance on the management of C. auris in June 2016, which was last updated in August 2017. The organisation reported that at the beginning of July 2017, 20 separate NHS Trusts and independent hospitals in the UK had detected over 200 patients colonised or infected with C. auris. Three hospitals had seen large outbreaks that proved difficult to control, despite intensive infection prevention and control measures.
PHE has also published a guide on C. auris for patients and visitors.