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Healthcare Facilities Face Urgent Infection Challenge

The CDC recently deemed C. auris an urgent antimicrobial resistant threat.   April 3, 2023


By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor 


The stakes have never been higher for hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Managers in these facilities have had to answer tough questions over the last three years about their buildings’ ventilation and air filtration systems due to the airborne threat of the coronavirus. Before the pandemic hit these facilities, though, managers faced a host of challenges related to healthcare-associated infections. 

Now, federal officials have alerted healthcare facilities that an ongoing infection control problem has become more serious. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently deemed C. auris an urgent antimicrobial resistant threat because it is often resistant to multiple antifungal drugs, spreads easily in healthcare facilities and can cause severe infections with high death rates.  

Candida auris (C. auris), an emerging fungus considered an urgent antimicrobial resistance threat, spread at an alarming rate in U.S. healthcare facilities in 2020-2021, according to data from the CDC. Equally concerning was a tripling in 2021 of the number of cases that were resistant to echinocandins, the antifungal medicine most recommended for treatment of C. auris infections. 

People who are very sick, have invasive medical devices or have long or frequent stays in healthcare facilities are at increased risk for acquiring C. Auris. 

C. auris has spread in the United States since it was first reported in 2016. Clinical cases have increased each year since 2016, with the most rapid rise occurring during 2020-2021. CDC has continued to see an increase in case counts for 2022. 

C. auris case counts have increased for many reasons, including poor general infection prevention and control (IPC) practices in healthcare facilities. Case counts also might have increased because of enhanced efforts to detect cases. The timing of this increase and findings from public health investigations suggest C. auris spread might have worsened due to strain on healthcare and public health systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Dan Hounsell is senior editor of the facilities market. He has more than 30 years of experience writing about facilities maintenance, engineering and management. 

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