Candida auris (C. auris) is a rare but potentially life-threatening type of fungus that is resistant to most antifungal medications. C. auris has spread in health care facilities (hospitals and nursing homes) and is hard to get rid of once it is in a facility, as it can live on surfaces for long periods of time.
While still relatively rare, this fungus is becoming more common. C. auris has been found in over 30 countries and was first identified in the U.S. in 2013. After first being found in each of its border states, Wisconsin identified its first case of C. auris in January 2022.
Causes and Prevention
Healthy people do not usually get sick from C. auris. C. auris mainly makes people sick who spend a lot of time in health care settings and who already have many medical problems. Most people who get sick from C. auris have weakened immune systems, have received lots of antibiotics, or have lines or tubes that go into their body such as breathing tubes, feeding tubes, or central venous catheters.
C. auris has primarily been found in health care settings, and it can be transmitted in these settings when a person touches a surface that has C. auris on it, as well as from person to person. C. auris can live on surfaces for several weeks and so it can be hard to get rid of once it is found in a health care facility. Person-to-person spread can happen in part because individuals can have C. auris on their skin and other body parts without feeling sick, and can spread the fungus to others.
Special precautions need to be taken in health care settings when C. auris is found, to help stop the spread to others. Health care providers and facilities should refer to the Provider Resources section for more information on the prevention and control of C. auris in these settings.
Signs and Symptoms
You may not notice symptoms of C. auris because patients with this type of fungus are often already sick in the hospital with another serious illness or condition.
If you do notice symptoms, they depend on which part of the body is affected. C. auris can cause many different types of infections, such as bloodstream, wound, and ear infections.
Because there is such a wide range of symptoms, a laboratory test is needed to see whether a patient has C. auris.
Most C. auris infections can be treated with a type of antifungal drug called echinocandins. However, some C. auris infections have been resistant to all three main types of antifungal medications, making them harder to treat.
In this situation, multiple types of antifungal medications at high doses may be needed to treat the infection. Antibiotics do not work against C. auris.
The first case of C. auris was identified in Wisconsin in early 2022, and there have only been a few cases identified to date. However, C. auris became a reportable condition in Wisconsin in July 2022, and so we will be able to better track and provide data on C. auris cases in the future.
Several states surrounding Wisconsin have identified larger numbers of cases in recent years. Data on C. auris cases in other states can be found on CDC's Tracking Candida auris webpage.
Resources for Individuals and Families
- Candida auris: Fact Sheet for Health Care Settings, P-03232: Educational fact sheet for the general public on C. auris in health care settings
- Information for Patients and Family Members: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) webpage including information on symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention
- Candida auris resources: CDC webpage containing resources for patients and their families
Resources for Health Care Providers and Public Health Professionals
As of July 1, 2022, Candida auris is a Category II reportable communicable disease condition in Wisconsin. See the Reportable Multidrug-Resistant Organism webpage for additional information about communicable disease reporting for this organism.
Wisconsin Department of Health Services Resources
- Reportable Multidrug-Resistant Organisms webpage
- Candida auris: Factsheet for Health Care Settings
- C. auris overview and resources, Memo, August 2019
- C. auris admissions screening recommendations, Memo, September 2019