Create a Website Account - Manage notification subscriptions, save form progress and more.
July 26, 2023
See full Washington DOH HAN alert for more information
A patient with a recent prolonged hospital stay at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Tacoma was recently reported to have C. auris. Based on known details, it is believed that this case of C. auris was acquired locally. Information may change as the investigation proceeds. Washington State Department of Health (WA DOH) is also aware of one other unrelated state resident who tested positive for C. auris during a hospitalization in another state. WA DOH and partner local health jurisdictions are working with involved facilities to assess and optimize infection prevention practices and to perform screening of other patients to identify if transmission has occurred. Public Health is making this announcement to strongly encourage all healthcare facilities to optimize infection prevention practices and to prepare for safely admitting and caring for patients who are infected or colonized with C. auris.
C. auris was first reported in 2009 outside of the U.S. and has since emerged globally as a life-threatening, highly transmissible, often multidrug resistant yeast that has caused difficult to control healthcare outbreaks. Invasive infections with any Candida species can be fatal. Based on information from a limited number of patients, more than 1 in 3 people with C. auris infections have died. Patients needing long term acute care and indwelling devices are at the highest risk for acquisition. International healthcare is often the initial source of introduction of C. auris to a region and subsequent healthcare transmission may occur due to lapses in infection control practices.
C. auris can be misidentified as a number of different organisms when using traditional phenotypic methods for yeast identification such as VITEK 2 YST, API 20C, BD Phoenix yeast, and Microscan. An increase in infections due to unidentified Candida species in a patient care unit, including increases in isolation of Candida from urine specimens, should also prompt suspicion for C. auris.
DOH performs special surveillance for C. auris by screening isolates submitted from high-risk patients, proactive screening of patients in high acuity long term care facilities, and sentinel lab submissions of non-albicans Candida species to the WA Public Health Laboratory for species identification. There are currently no FDA-approved tests for colonization swabs. Laboratories with capability to characterize isolates further when C. auris is suspected are encouraged to do so. Public Health closely tracks all known C. auris cases and notifies healthcare facilities if a newly admitted patient should be screened.