Candida auris (C. auris) is a fungus that can cause infection and illness in humans. It was first identified in Japan in 2009, although the earliest infection is believed to have occurred in South Korea in 1996.

Since its identification, unrelated strains of the fungus have been found in multiple countries worldwide, including the United States.

The fungus is a type of yeast that can enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body. Treatment is often complex because most people who become seriously ill with C. auris already have an acute or chronic condition.

Additionally, the fungus doesn’t always respond to standard antifungal medications. High doses of multiple antifungal medications are sometimes needed to clear an infection.

Let’s look at the details of this fungus and how to prevent infection.

C. auris is typically transmitted in hospitals and other healthcare settings. The fungus can spread via contaminated surfaces, such as medical equipment and furniture. It can also be transmitted from person to person.

The fungus has been found in many regions throughout the world, including:

  • North America
  • South America
  • East Asia
  • South Asia
  • southern Africa

Testing on regional C. auris strains has found significant differences between them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes this data indicates that the strains have developed independently around the world, and have not spread from continent to continent.

How long does Candida auris last on surfaces?

C. auris is hardy. Testing and data suggest this fungus can last on surfaces for weeks at a time. This is likely part of why it’s often transmitted in healthcare facilities.

Recent Candida auris outbreaks

C. auris has been found in over 30 countries since it was first identified in 2009. The CDC classes C. auris as an “emerging pathogen” because of its continued rise in reported cases and locations.

Recent outbreaks have occurred in hospitals throughout the United States. As of summer 2022, CDC data reports that 4,616 people in the United States have C. auris.

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The symptoms of C. auris infection can vary widely depending on the person and on the part of the body affected.

The most common symptoms include a fever and chills, but these symptoms are common in many other infections. Additionally, most people with C. auris are already being treated for another condition. This can make symptoms difficult to identify.

Underlying conditions can also change how the symptoms of C. auris present.

Who is most at risk for Candida auris infection?

C. auris is most common among people with multiple chronic or recurrent health conditions. People who live in nursing facilities or have frequent hospitalizations have a much higher risk of C. auris infection.

Additional risk factors include:

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Antifungal medications treat C. auris infections. Generally, doctors prescribe a class of medications called echinocandins.

However, some C. auris infections are resistant to all forms of antifungal medication, including echinocandins. When this occurs, doctors prescribe high doses of multiple antifungal medications.

There are no “natural” or at-home treatments for this type of fungal infection. Medical treatment is always needed.

Isolation times for Candida auris infections

The CDC recommends private hospital rooms for people with a C. auris infection.

If no private rooms are available, the CDC advises that room sharing with other people with C. auris or similar multi-drug-resistant organism infections is the best option. Extra cleaning and staffing precautions are advised when patients share rooms.

The CDC recommends that people with C. auris remain in isolation the entire time they are receiving treatment in a healthcare facility.

If the person lives in a nursing facility or similar residential medical setting, the CDC advises indefinite isolation.

The primary treatment for C. auris is a class of antifungal medication called echinocandins. Your insurance coverage for this medication might depend on the specific echinocandin a doctor prescribes and whether it’s a generic or brand-name prescription.

Prices without insurance start at an average of about $50 per treatment injection. You might need several injections to treat an infection.

Other treatment costs will depend on factors such as the length of your hospital stay, whether you’re receiving any other treatment, and your region.

The amount of time it takes to recover from C. auris infection depends on the severity of the infection and the response to treatment.

Some cases of C. auris are difficult to treat and can last several rounds of antifungal medication. Others are mild and respond well to treatment.

However, it’s important to note that even when you no longer have symptoms, you will still carry the fungus. This is called “being colonized with C. auris.”

Although the fungus will no longer make you sick, it will be possible to transmit it to others. This is why the CDC recommends indefinite isolation and infection precautions in healthcare settings for people with C. auris.

It’s currently unknown how long people can remain colonized by C. auris. Some people have been observed to still be colonized several months after the infection was resolved.

C. auris is a serious infection. It can be fatal if it enters the bloodstream.

Healthy people rarely develop C. auris infections. Most fatal cases develop in people who are hospitalized and already have a life threatening condition.

Additionally, although the CDC is watching for new outbreaks of C. auris, infections are relatively rare. According to the most recent data, nearly all U.S. states have fewer than 100 cases of C. auris.

You can take standard infection precautions to help reduce the risk of a C. auris infection. This includes frequent handwashing and not sharing towels, washcloths, utensils, toiletries, or other items that come in close contact with your body. It’s also a good idea to always keep any wounds clean and covered.

Candida auris is a fungal infection that can cause serious illness. The infection primarily affects people who are already being treated for a serious health condition in a hospital or long-term care setting.

Infections can be difficult to treat and might be resistant to antifungal medications. Treatment with multiple antifungal medications is often required. Indefinite isolation is often required following an infection.

Currently, C. auris infections are rare. The CDC is actively monitoring the fungus as an emerging pathogen.