Combatting C. auris: Effectively Disinfecting Healthcare Settings
Halosil Blog

Timely insights on whole room disinfection.

HospitalsApril 16, 2019

Combatting C. auris: Effectively Disinfecting Healthcare Settings

by David St. Clair, Chairman and CFO, Halosil International

A deadly fungal infection is  appearing around the globe, and it’s causing widespread concern in healthcare. The germ, called Candida auris (C. auris), was first identified in 2009 in Japan and has since traveled around the world, with recent occurrences reported in the U.S. in New York, New Jersey, and Illinois.

Why fear a fungus in the age of advanced antifungal treatments? It turns out a number of C. auris strains are resistant to all three major classes of antifungal drugs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 90% of C. auris infections are resistant to at least one drug, and 30% are resistant to two or more major drugs. Beyond its resistance, the infection also poses additional challenges. It is difficult to identify with standard laboratory methods, leaving a number of infected patients undiagnosed and unknowingly spreading disease-causing pathogens. On top of it all, common disinfection practices have proven futile against C. auris, pathogens, requiring some hospitals to go so far as to remove ceiling tiles and floor pieces to fully disinfect patient rooms. Since the fungus infection can survive on surfaces for weeks at a time, the risk of spreading C. auris, pathogens via improperly disinfected environments poses a real challenge.

As standard disinfection practices continue to prove ineffective against C. auris, CDC officials have released a number of recommendations to properly disinfect environments C. auris, pathogens may have reached. Important points and practices to keep in mind when disinfecting against C. auris spores include:

1. Know Where & How It Thrives

Healthcare settings like hospitals and nursing homes are two major breeding grounds for C. auris spores as they host individuals with immature or compromised immune systems who are prime candidates for contracting the fungal infection. These individuals are not only at a higher risk of picking up the spores due to their long lifespans on surfaces, but also because they can colonize patients’ skin and other body parts months after an active case has resolved.

Even in seemingly sterile environments in hospitals, the C. auris, pathogens can be found in a myriad of areas—from bedside tables and bedrails to radiology and physical therapy areas. Even more alarming, C. auris spores have been found on mobile equipment, such as glucometers, temperature probes, blood pressure cuffs, ultrasound machines, nursing carts, and crash carts, which come into contact with multiple patients throughout the healthcare environment. For these reasons, it comes as no surprise that hospitals must adopt disinfection practices that disinfect beyond that which is possible with a standard spray and wipe.

2. Know What Will & Won’t Work

In order to properly disinfect infected surfaces and environments, the CDC has provided an updated guidance on environmental control of C. auris with antimicrobial pesticides. Aside from strongly encouraging hand hygiene and the use of gloves whenever possible, the guide also warns against the inadequacy of quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs). Although routinely used for disinfection, QACs may not be effective against C. auris pathogens. Limited data on hands-free disinfection methods show they may require cycle times similar to those used to inactivate bacterial spores like Clostridioides difficile (C. diff) when used for C. auris.

While data is still being collected on C. auris, the CDC currently recommends using a hospital-grade disinfectant that is recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for being effective against C. diff spores. A list of these approved disinfectants, which includes HaloMist®, EPA Registration No. 84526-6, can be found on List K.

Stopping the Spread of C. auris

When dealing with emerging pathogens like C. auris, it can be challenging to develop a disinfection plan in which one has confidence—especially in the midst of so much uncertainty. At Halosil, we understand the evolving disinfection demands of healthcare institutions and deliver a whole room disinfection system that is capable of eliminating persistent pathogens like those of C. auris.

In the disinfection efforts against C. auris pathogens, our proprietary Halo Disinfection System® acts as a hospital’s first line of defense. As a hospital-grade disinfectant (EPA Reg. No. 84526-6) that kills 99.9999% of resistant C. diff spores, our system delivers the recommended 6-log kill rate needed to disinfect stubborn pathogens like those of C. auris.

Ready to disinfect C. auris pathogens in your healthcare environment? Contact Halosil today.