Deadly fungal infection can spread through skin shedding, study finds

Patients heavily colonized with Candida auris can contaminate their surroundings by shedding the deadly fungus from their skin, new research shows.

C. auris can cause large outbreaks in healthcare facilities. As of April 30, there have been 684 cases of C. auris in the U.S., in addition to numerous cases reported globally. Learning how the fungus spreads can help clinicians stem the worldwide outbreaks.

Researchers found that patients can have high concentrations of C. auris on their skin and developed methods of counting the fungus in samples collected from patients' skin and their rooms. The beds of patients with higher C. auris concentrations on their skin also had higher levels of C. auris.

The researchers cultured live C. auris from the beds of all patients who tested positive for C. auris, and even from the beds that were formally occupied by C. auris patients.

"This finding supported our hypothesis that patients are actively shedding C. auris cells into their environment," said Joe Sexton, PhD, a post-doctoral fellow at the CDC who led the study.

The research was presented at ASM Microbe, the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology that ends June 24 in San Francisco.

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