Fungus Keeps Spreading in UK Hospitals

Hospitals in the UK have been taking measures to prevent the spread of Candida auris, the fungus that first was detected in Japan. The first case of the fungus infection in the UK occurred back in 2013 and since then the incidence increases year by year. The infection seems more and more difficult to cure, doctors claim, because the fungus has developed resistance to many drugs that were, and still are, used for treatment.

Another problem is that many patients don’t experience any symptoms until the fungus results in such serious conditions as bloodstream and wound infections. Swabs from different parts of the patient’s body have to be taken to check if the patient really has Candida auris. Dr Colin Brown said that most of the cases were detected by screening, rather than symptoms patients complained about. Luckily, no patient has died so far despite the fact that some of them developed the abovementioned complications.

In July, a total of 20 different hospitals and healthcare institutions in the UK detected Candida auris. Previously, three hospitals had large outbreaks that took the institutions some time and much effort to get under control. However, these outbreaks are things of the past now, and experts say there isn’t any reason for concern.

Public Health England (PHE) has issued a leaflet for potential patients who suspect they may have the fungal infection. The organization has also updated the guidance for hospitals on preventing and managing possible outbreaks of Candida auris.

Basic information on Candida auris

Although the first incidence of Candida auris took place only seven years ago, in 2009 in Japan, outbreaks have subsequently happened in many countries around the world, including the United States, India, Israel and Spain.

The fungus belongs to a large family of yeast that is known to live on the skin as well as inside the body. For example, Candida albicans – the yeast infection that causes thrush – is another member of this family.

The infection is believed to spread by simple contact – habitually through hands – from one person to another. With this way of spreading, contamination may happen very fast; according to some hospital reports, it took only 4 hours for the fungus to cause an outbreak.

As prevention, proper hygiene is essential. In case of risk of an outbreak, both hospital staff and patients are recommended to wash their hands with soap not only before a meal but also every hour during the day.