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UK Chandler Hospital Faces Candida Auris: Understanding the Emerging Fungal Pathogen

Lexington’s UK Chandler Hospital is currently treating five patients for Candida auris, an increasingly concerning fungal infection known for its potentially lethal outcomes. As cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, invasive infections like Candida auris, which can impact vital organs such as the heart, brain, or blood, often prove fatal for over a third of patients. Considering this, the CDC has flagged Candida auris as a potential ‘global health threat.’

According to Nicholas Van Sickels, UK HealthCare’s interim director of infection control and prevention, some strains of the fungal disease have demonstrated resistance to certain antifungal medications. Van Sickels clarified that the disease is not universally resistant and its level of resistance may evolve during treatment. The existence of a Candida auris infection doesn’t necessarily imply a lack of potential treatments. This fungal infection is transmitted through surface contact and is commonly encountered in hospital environments. Hospitals, therefore, are equipped to identify it through routine patient screenings and by closely monitoring symptomatic indications like ear or wound infections.

Particular attention is given to individuals at higher risk, including those undergoing invasive surgeries or those residing in the Intensive Care Unit. Patients from long-term acute care facilities, those with tracheostomies, and those with wounds are routinely screened for Candida auris, as they are more likely to have it on their skin. These targeted screenings allow hospitals to isolate such individuals, ensuring patient safety. While identifying at-risk individual remains crucial, Van Sickels reports that there are currently no ‘active’ Candida auris infections at the hospital. Taking preventive measures to thwart a potential outbreak or grave situation is, however, deemed a critical responsibility.

The presence of Candida auris at UK Chandler Hospital is owing to their active detection and control measures designed to provide an added safety layer. While there are other treatment options for clearing the infection, currently, 17 states across the country have reported cases of this disease. Although the patients at UK Chandler Hospital do have the fungus on their skin, it is not causing an active infection in any of them. Robust disinfection protocols have been implemented at the hospital to limit the spread of this fungus.


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