C. auris on the rising in nursing home, acute care hospitals

The rapid spread of Candida auris in acute-care hospitals and nursing homes is highlighting poorly funded and understaffed infection prevention efforts, The Washington Post reported March 21.

The fungus spreads primarily in long-term acute care hospitals and skilled nursing facilities and is considered a global public health threat because of its resistance to antifungal drugs and disinfectants. 

CDC data found 1 in 43 nursing home residents and 1 in 31 hospital patients acquired an infection while seeking medical care. In 2021, more than 27,000 infections from intravenous lines, more than 24,000 from catheters, more than 50,000 from ventilators across thousands of acute-care hospitals, and 4,000 infections were identified at long-term care hospitals.

"It is critical that hospitals follow enhanced barrier precautions and inform nursing homes of colonization so, together, we can mitigate the spread," David Gifford, the American Health Care Association’s chief medical officer, told the Post. He added that the fungus is primarily spreading to skilled nursing facilities from patients discharged from acute- and long-term care hospitals. 

Exposure for elderly, severely ill or immunocompromised patients is inevitable, but the risk can be mitigated with infection prevention protocols such as regular surveillance, isolation, protective equipment, proper hand hygiene and deep cleaning, according to the report. However, there are gaps, such as staff and visitors failing to properly wash their hands and miscommunication.

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology is advocating for federal regulations to mandate full-time infection prevention specialists at long-term care facilities. This is a mandate for hospitals, though the rules are loose.

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