Japanese Super Bug: How to help prevent it spreading?

Likened to a ‘superbug’, a Japanese fungus has spread to at least 55 UK hospitals. Resistant to drugs, the fungus called Candida auris was first identified in Japan in 2009, in the ear canal of a 70 year old woman. Since then it has spread rapidly around the globe, with the first UK case detected in 2013.

NHS trusts have been ordered to carry out deep cleans of all infected areas after more than 200 patients were found to be infected or carrying the potentially fatal infection.

What is Candida auris?

Candida auris is a species of fungus which grows as yeast. It is one of the few species of the Candida genus which cause candidiasis in humans. Candidiasis is often acquired in hospitals by patients with weakened immune systems. C. auris can cause invasive candidiasis in which the bloodstream, the central nervous system, and internal organs are infected. It has recently attracted increased attention because of its multidrug resistance. Treatment is also complicated because it is easily misidentified as other Candida species.

How can you help stop it spreading?

  • Screen patients for the fungus, isolating anyone affected, focusing on the importance of deep cleaning all affected areas.
  • Spreading can be limited by good hygiene, keeping hands clean by frequent hand washing and use of alcohol hand gel.
  • Face Masks and eye protection should be worn during patient procedures
  • Gowns and gloves should be worn in areas of infection and should be disposed of carefully
  • Antifungal medicines can treat the infection, despite the strain of Candida auris in the UK having some resistance to some of these drugs.
  • Ensure all equipment and facilities are deep cleaned and disinfected prior to next use. Items that can’t be disinfected should be discarded.

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