Candida auris (C. auris)

Candida auris, also known as C. auris, is a type of yeast that can cause serious infections in humans, including bloodstream or wound infections. When people develop C. auris on places such as their skin but do not have an infection, this is called colonization. However, being colonized may increase their risk of developing an infection.

Frequently Asked Questions

C. auris:

  1. Causes serious infections. C. auris can cause bloodstream infections and even death, particularly in hospital patients and nursing home residents with serious medical problems. More than 1 in 3 individuals with invasive C. auris infection (for example, an infection that affects the blood, heart, or brain) die.
  2. Is difficult to treat. Antifungal medicines commonly used to treat other fungal infections often don’t work on C. auris.
  3. Can be difficult to identify with standard laboratory methods. C. auris can be misidentified as other types of Candida in laboratories without specific technology.
  4. Is becoming more common. C. auris has spread quickly and caused infections in more than a dozen countries, including the United States.
  5. Has caused outbreaks in health care settings. For this reason, it is important to quickly identify C. auris in patients so that health care facilities can take precautions to stop its spread.
Between May 24, 2016 and April 4, 2019, 154 confirmed and four probable clinical cases were identified. 
Location of Residence Number of Clinical Cases
Chicago 95
Cook County 56
DuPage, Lake, Will counties 7
 

Table 1. Characteristics of 127 clinical case patients with available risk factor data

Characteristic Percentage of Patients
Presence of IV device 77%
Wounds 67%
Feeding tube 59%
Urinary Catheter 53%
Tracheostomy 51%
Mechanically ventilated 50%
Additionally, through proactive screening, 453* individuals were found to have C. auris on their skin (colonization identified by culturing C. auris from a swab that was rubbed on a patient's skin), but were not ill.
*37 of the 453 known screening-positive cases have since developed clinical disease and are therefore counted in the clinical cases as well.

Table 2. Characteristics of 78 colonized patients with available risk factor data

Characteristic Percentage of Patients
Feeding tube 71%
Tracheostomy 63%
Mechanically ventilated 50%
Wounds 53%
Urinary Catheter 37%
Presences of an IV device 37%
 

The overwhelming majority of clinical and colonized cases are among patient who are currently in or have recently resided in skilled nursing facilities caring for ventilated patients or in long-term acute care hospitals.

IDPH’s primary concern is for the health and safety of all patients and long-term care residents.  IDPH and local health departments are working with health care facilities to implement and maintain infection control practices to reduce transmission (cleaning and disinfecting environmental surfaces and shared equipment, hand hygiene, gloves, gowns, etc.) of bacteria, viruses, fungus, and other organism that can cause illness.  Public health officials are conducting surveillance for clinical cases and also screening individuals (swabbing the skin of patients/residents) in health care facilities where clinical cases C. auris have been found. 
 
The Illinois Control of Communicable Diseases Code allows IDPH to share information with local health departments, health care providers, and health care facilities as necessary for the treatment, prevention, or control of disease.
 
There is a risk of healthcare-associated infection (HAI) in all health care facilities – a risk of Candida auris, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Clostridioides difficile (C. diff) infection, carbapenem-resistant entrerobacteriaceae (CRE), and others.  The risk of infection from exposure to these germs is heightened for medically fragile individuals and those needing medical devices, such as ventilators or tracheostomy tubes.  These individuals often reside in or are patients in a skilled nursing care facility*.​
 
It is not always known where a person became infected with C. auris.  For example, a resident of a nursing home that cares for ventilated patients may transfer to a hospital.  While at the hospital the individual is tested and is found to be positive for C. auris. It is not clear if that individual was infected at the nursing home or at the hospital. Listing health care facilities where a clinical case of C. auris has been diagnosed would not be comprehensive of all facilities where C. auris, or other HAIs exist. 
 
IDPH encourages patients and their families to talk with their provider and the facility where they are seeking care about the potential risk of HAIs, including C. auris, and what the facility is doing to reduce the risk of such infections.  ​
 
IDPH is committed to working with facilities to ensure they are aware of the most up-to-date guidance on screening for and preventing C.auris and other HAIs.
 

*A skilled nursing care facility offers a high level of medical care provided by trained individuals, such as registered nurses (RNs) and physical, speech, and occupational therapists. These services can be necessary over the short term for rehabilitation from an illness or injury, or they may be required over the long term for patients who need care on a frequent or around-the-clock basis due to a chronic medical condition. Examples of skilled nursing services include wound care, intravenous (IV) therapy, injections, physical therapy, and monitoring of vital signs and medical equipment.  Skilled nursing care facilities for ventilator-dependent patients.