Health department officials were flagged to four cases of the so-called Candida auris infections; three manifesting in the bloodstream, one presenting in a urinary tract infection.
The CDC says this yeast can cause serious infections and death, especially in patients with underlying medical conditions. Worse yet, it’s difficult to identify, can be asymptomatic and lingers on surfaces.
After the first four cases were found in an unspecified “hospital A,” the CDC, state health department and the hospital launched a joint investigation to observe staffers’ hand hygiene, disinfection and PPE practices, per a recent CDC report.
The CDC noted 35 additional test results among coronavirus patients, and of 20 with available records, eight died within about a month of screening, though it isn’t clear what role the fungus had in these deaths.
Hospital staff missed opportunities for hand washing, and other disinfection practices, thereby potentially contributing to transmission of the fungus, the CDC said. (iStock)
Health care providers were faulty in their practices, raising the risk of further fungal spread; they wore gear like gowns and gloves throughout entire shifts, and didn’t consistently disinfect computers and equipment, according to the findings.
Of note, the hospital staff wore multiple layers of gowns, which the CDC suggested was likely due to fear of coronavirus infection. However, the CDC noted this practice is counterintuitive and wasteful; “Such practices among HCP [health care providers] might be motivated by fear of becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2 but instead might increase risks for self-contamination when doffing and for transmission of other pathogens among patients and exacerbate PPE supply shortages,” reads the CDC report.
The CDC does not advise donning more than one gown or pair of gloves at a time.
Further, after the hospital took several steps to improve cleaning and other related practices, no additional cases of the Candida auris fungus cropped up on surveys.
The CDC said the outbreak demonstrates the need to follow infection control recommendations and continue monitoring for health threats, like the deadly fungus.