Modern healthcare providers are facing a dilemma. The medications they have used for years to combat certain bacteria, viruses, and fungi are no longer working, because the species have transformed into superbugs. Although the name might bring to mind a sci-fi creature, the reality is dire. Superbugs are resistant to antibiotics, unfazed by the drugs that doctors normally rely on to treat many dangerous medical conditions. The new superbug on the block is a type of yeast known as Candida auris, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is already encouraging healthcare facilities to be on the lookout for this lethal yeast. Since treating superbugs is so tricky, preventing Candida auris is critically important.
What You Need to Know About Candida Auris
Why are health experts so worried about Candida auris?
Infections caused by Candida auris can be deadly. According to the CDC, some strains of Candida auris are resistant to all three major classes of antifungal drugs. No other species of Candida has displayed this type of multidrug resistance. Complicating the problem is the fact that Candida auris isn’t easy to identify. Specific technologies are required to correctly recognize this fungus, so labs using standard methods of identification are likely to misidentify it.
What exactly is Candida auris?
Candida is a genus of yeasts and one of the most common causes of fungal infections across the globe. As Consumer Reports explains, Candida auris is a type of yeast first seen in Japan in 2009 that has since spread to more than a dozen countries, including the U.S. While it is still rare in this country, the number of infections caused by this superbug is increasing. As of April 2017, there have been 69 cases in the U.S., and about 30 percent of those who contracted this infection died. Note that many of these people had other serious health issues, so experts aren’t sure if their deaths resulted from the infection or their another health condition.
Can doctors treat Candida auris effectively?
The CDC reports that most infections caused by Candida auris can be treated effectively with a class of antifungal drugs called echinocandins. If the infection proves resistant to this approach, then doctors generally have to prescribe multiple classes of antifungal drugs at high doses. Although we need more research to fully understand how Candida auris spreads, researchers do know that it can spread in healthcare settings via contact with contaminated surfaces, including medical equipment, furniture, and skin. Due to the difficult treatment process, preventing Candida auris is tremendously important.
Preventing Candida Auris
At the moment, Candida auris is mostly a concern for very ill people in healthcare settings, but everyone can take some basic precautions to reduce the presence of this superbug. If you’re interested in preventing Candida auris from spreading, keep the following tips in mind.
Candida auris is typically identified in healthcare settings. So whenever you or a loved one enters a hospital or nursing home, ask if any patients in the facility have been diagnosed with Candida auris. If the answer is yes, then ask what the facility is doing to protect other patients and the general public. The answer should leave you feeling confident that the facility is being proactive about prevention. We also encourage you to be extra vigilant with germ prevention during your time at any healthcare facility.
Make Handwashing a Habit
Candida auris can spread through contact with a contaminated surface like a table, bed rail, or piece of medical equipment. It can also survive on the skin and be transmitted from one person to another, so thorough handwashing is vital. Good hand hygiene is simple and highly effective in preventing the spread of a variety of germs, so make it a habit to wash your hands properly and insist that those around you do the same. After washing your hands thoroughly, consider applying an alcohol-free hand sanitizer like the SafeSpace® Non-Alcohol Instant Hand Sanitizer. It’s safe for all ages, 99% effective, and contains emollients that will not crack the skin leaving you at risk for germs to be introduced into the body.
Keep It Clean
Much like handwashing can halt the spread of unpleasant germs, maintaining a clean, healthy environment can also help protect you from illnesses caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi. If you want to prevent these harmful organisms from moving in to your spaces, consider adding the SafeSpace® Disinfectant & Deodorizing Germ Fogger to your cleaning arsenal. A hospital-grade contact disinfectant, this product can kill up to 99 percent of the germs responsible for colds, flu, MRSA, staph, and other viruses. While it doesn’t kill molds and other fungi, it can prevent them from growing in a space treated consistently with the germ fogger. As a bonus, it also eliminates unpleasant odors and leaves behind a fresh scent. Use the germ fogger after your normal cleaning routine to prevent the spread of superbugs like Candida auris.
Although superbugs present a significant threat to human health and safety, you can take steps to thwart their impact. Preventing Candida auris is possible with the right knowledge, tools, and routines. To safeguard the health of those around you, share what you’ve learned about Candida auris and use the tips above to stop superbugs in their tracks.