Candida auris, a yeast infection resistant to antifungal treatments, has raised concerns among health experts due to its ability to spread from person to person. First identified in Asia in 2009, it has since been reported in over 30 countries. Researchers now believe that climate change may be contributing to the emergence and rapid spread of this dangerous pathogen.
Understanding Candida Auris
Candida auris is a unique concern because it can spread from person to person, unlike most fungi, according to Dr. Scott Roberts, associate medical director of infection prevention at Yale School of Medicine. The spread of this yeast infection may be linked to climate change, which could be enabling C. auris to adapt to higher temperatures, increasing its potential to infect humans, says Dr. Syra Madad, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and the New York City Hospital System.
Candida auris Prevalence
Initially found only in certain healthcare settings in major cities such as New York City and Chicago, C. auris has now been reported in more than half of US states, according to a recent CDC study. This yeast infection can colonize the skin and gut and can be spread through close contact with an infected individual or contaminated surfaces. The fungus can survive on surfaces for weeks.
Candida auris is of particular concern because it is often resistant to multiple antifungal medications, making it difficult to treat. Its ability to persist on surfaces and spread within healthcare facilities adds to the challenge of controlling its spread.
Healthcare professionals and facilities should be vigilant in their infection prevention and control measures, including proper hand hygiene, environmental cleaning, and the appropriate use of personal protective equipment. Additionally, they should monitor for the presence of C. auris and report any cases to the appropriate public health authorities.
Public awareness about Candida auris is also essential in preventing its spread. As a health and fitness website owner, you can contribute by sharing accurate and up-to-date information about C. auris, its prevalence, and ways to prevent its transmission. This can help inform your audience and establish your site as a valuable resource for health-related information.
The primary treatment for C. auris is intravenous antifungal medications. However, a recent CDC report published in Annals of Internal Medicine documented a tripling in the number of cases resistant to echinocandins, the first-choice drug class for this type of infection. Most isolates are resistant to fluconazole, a common antifungal medication, though drug-resistant cases remain relatively rare overall.
Who is at Risk?
Candida auris often doesn’t cause infection in healthy individuals. Dr. Madad explains that those at the highest risk for severe infections are people who are already sick, immunocompromised, or have long or frequent stays in healthcare facilities. Invasive C. auris infections can be deadly for 30% to 60% of patients.
The Role of Climate Change
Experts believe that a warming climate is a major reason for the rapid rise of C. auris worldwide. Dr. Roberts explains that this fungus may have evolved with climate change, allowing it to withstand higher temperatures compared to other fungi. As global temperatures continue to rise, it is expected that new fungal threats will emerge, and the number of Candida auris cases will increase.
Prevention and Control Measures
To avoid the spread of Candida auris, practicing good hand hygiene, especially in healthcare settings, is crucial. Healthcare facilities and public health experts must also increase surveillance and improve infection control procedures.
Candida auris is an emerging threat to human health that is resistant to antifungal treatments and potentially linked to climate change. To combat this dangerous pathogen, it is essential to maintain proper hygiene practices, enhance surveillance, and develop improved infection control measures.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Candida auris. https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/candida-auris/index.html
 Lyman, M., Forsberg, K., Reuben, J., et al. (2022). Increasing Candida auris Cases, United States, 2016–2022. Annals of Internal Medicine. https://doi.org/10.7326/M21-3451
 Roberts, S. (2022). Personal communication. Yale School of Medicine.