Candida auris (C. auris) is a highly infectious yeast—a type of fungus. It is drug-resistant, highly contagious, can live for weeks—if not months—on surfaces, and is often deadly. According to the CDC, more than one in three patients with an invasive C. auris infection die, while other experts estimate the death rate is as high as 57%. Adding to the concern is the fact that C. auris has been showing up with increasing frequency in healthcare facilities worldwide.
These facts are why hospital environmental services (EVS) providers need to know all they can about how to combat this dangerous fungus to protect patients and themselves. But before we look at best practices for fighting C. auris, let’s learn a bit more about it.
About C. Auris
Below are some facts about C. auris
- Most experts agree that C.auris was first discovered in an ear canal of a patient in 2009 in Japan, although unrelated cases appeared in other countries soon after.
- C. auris infections usually manifest in the bloodstream, ears, or wounds.
- C. auris is most often, if not always, a healthcare-associated infection (HAI) that is contracted in a hospital or other healthcare setting.
- C. auris is difficult to diagnose by routine fungal cultures; molecular methods that not all laboratories can perform are required to identify it.
- As of April 11, 2019, the CDC reported 587 cases of C. auris infections had been documented, primarily in New York, Illinois, and New Jersey.
- Individuals with weakened immune systems are the most susceptible to C. auris, especially those who have received a broad spectrum of antimicrobial formulas before contracting the disease.
- Patients can carry and transfer C. auris without becoming sick or even knowing they have it, which is referred to as colonization.
- Symptoms of C. auris are not always identifiable, as they often occur in patients that are already sick. For bloodstream infections, symptoms often include fever or chills that don’t subside.
- Certain hospital procedures can make patients more susceptible to invasive C. auris, including the use of a lot of antibiotics, feeding and breathing tubes/ventilators, and catheters.
Tips for EVS Providers to Help Combat C. Auris
Below are four strategies EVS hospital cleaning services teams can use to help curb the spread of C. auris.
Product selection. The CDC recommends using an EPA-registered hospital-grade disinfectant on the agency’s List K, which includes disinfectants proven effective against Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile) spores.
Surfaces. C. auris has been cultured from multiple locations in patient rooms and not just high-touch surfaces. The fungus has been identified on lower touch surfaces, such as windowsills. It has also been found on mobile equipment, such as glucometers, temperature probes, blood pressure cuffs, ultrasound machines, and various carts. Special attention should be paid to these items when cleaning and disinfecting.
Proper protocols. Because C. auris is highly contagious, thorough daily and terminal cleaning and disinfection of any area thought to be contaminated by the fungus is necessary to reduce the risk of transmission. Proper procedures include selecting the right products and ensuring that all manufacturer instructions are followed for every application. EVS workers must allow the proper dwell time stipulated by the disinfectant’s manufacturer to ensure thoroughly disinfected surfaces.
Education and training. As successfully fighting any potentially dangerous pathogen requires, education of all EVS providers about C. auris and its transmission is vital. Training and supervision of cleaning and disinfecting processes of areas contaminated with C. auris can help ensure the consistent use of proper infection-control practices.
Hospital Environmental Services Expertise
Are you concerned about an outbreak of C. auris in your facility and want to ensure you have the best, most effective infection-prevention protocols in place? Find out more about Servicon’s science-backed infection-prevention expertise, or call us at 310-204-5040.
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