The Spread of <em>C. auris</em>
Halosil Blog

Timely insights on whole room disinfection.

HospitalsMay 11, 2021

The Spread of C. auris

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

Steps Healthcare Facilities Can Take to Contain the Deadly Fungal Infection

While all eyes have been on COVID-19 over the past year, Candida auris (C. auris) cases have been on the rise.

According to the CDC, C. auris—an emerging fungus that was first identified in 2009—currently presents a serious global health threat. In particular, the deadly fungal infection possesses a significant risk to healthcare facilities for three reasons:

  1. Multi-drug resistance: C. auris is often resistant to antifungal drugs, with some strains resistant to all three available classes of antifungals. This makes cases difficult to treat.
  2. Challenging to identify: The fungal infection can be difficult to identify with standard laboratory methods, and deadly when it goes unchecked. According to a recent study, patients with a delayed diagnosis of C.auris had a 30-day mortality rate of 35.2%.
  3. Prone to outbreak: Misidentification of C.auris can lead to inappropriate management of cases, and as a result, cause outbreaks in healthcare settings.

In the event that C. auris is present in a healthcare setting, it is critical to identify quickly and take precautionary steps to minimize the spread. Yet, as COVID-19 has strapped healthcare systems, C. auris cases have gone undiagnosed for longer and spread to a greater number of patients.

C. auris Cases Increased During the Pandemic

There have been isolated outbreaks of C. auris in hospitals, healthcare centers, and nursing facilities all over the world in recent months. The exact number of cases has been difficult to pinpoint, however, because many care facilities and hospitals stopped screening for other pathogens during the first few months of the pandemic as resources became dedicated to COVID-19. The CDC estimates that there have been about 1,708 cases in the U.S. as of March 19, 2021, with the largest number of cases identified in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and California.

Screenings for pathogens and fungal infections beyond COVID-19 picked back up in the summer of 2020, and, according to the New York Times, the results suggested that drug-resistant organisms like C. auris have taken root and spread.

A recent article in Clinical Microbiology and Infection detailed an outbreak of C. auris in a COVID-19 hospital in Mexico. The outbreak started from a non-COVID-19 patient in May 2020 during the transition of the hospital into an exclusive COVID-19 facility. The infection later spread to 12 patients in the intensive care unit, with a mortality rate of 83.3%.

Taking Precautionary Steps Against C. auris

Once C. auris has been identified in a healthcare setting, it is critical to take precautionary steps to prevent its spread. The fungus is transmitted through contact with contaminated environmental surfaces or equipment, as well as from person to person. As such, it is critical to isolate patients when C. auris is suspected, and ensure proper disinfection takes place.

However, eliminating C. auris from surfaces can be a challenge for infection prevention (IP) and environmental services (EVS) teams as C. auris is resistant to many disinfectants. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends using a hospital-grade disinfectant recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for being effective against C. difficile spores. These approved disinfectants can be found on List K.

Using the right application method is also critical to consider with C. auris. When evaluating patients’ rooms, C. auris cultures have been found on both high-touch surfaces, like bedside tables and bedrails, as well as on environmental surfaces farther away from the patient, like windowsills. This emphasizes the importance of using a whole room disinfection system that can reach pathogens in all of the places and spaces where they lurk.

Selecting a Whole Room Disinfectant

Getting ahead of pathogens like C. auris is essential for facilities to slow the spread of deadly and multi-drug resistant organisms. At Halosil, our whole room disinfection system has been utilized for over a decade by healthcare facilities worldwide to disinfect against emerging and challenging pathogen types. Our hydrogen peroxide-based HaloMist disinfectant (EPA Reg. No. 84526-6) is a List K product, with a 99.9999% kill claim against C. difficile. Today, the Halo Disinfection System is being utilized to eliminate a myriad of pathogens, including C. auris, C. diff, SARS-CoV-2, norovirus, MRSA and more.

Contact us to learn more about how the Halo Disinfection System® can fit into your infection prevention and control strategy.


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