Candida Auris. Little known to the general public, the dangerous fungus that has infected patients at the Pierre Boucher hospital in Longueuil has been identified by health authorities since 2009. It’s deadly, but you shouldn’t panic, says a specialist.
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“It’s found almost primarily in healthcare. It’s not a fungus that colonizes you like the famous candida albicans that everyone has a bit on their bodies. Candida auris was discovered in Japan in 2009 in a patient who had an ear infection. And then it spread a little bit,” explains Dr. Cécile Tremblay, microbiologist and infectiologist at the Center Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal.
Who is at risk of contracting candida auris? “It attacks people whose immune systems are compromised either by a very serious illness or their condition of basic immunosuppression, transplant recipients, transplant recipients. The fungus will do them the most damage,” says Dr. Tremblay.
Candida auris is resistant to antifungal drugs, treatments used to treat fungal infections.
“If Candida auris gets into the blood, into the lungs of a patient, the risk of death is very high,” says the microbiologist and infectiologist.
dr Tremblay claims that to control the fungus, it is necessary to maintain the infection prevention techniques still in place in Quebec hospitals, specifically washing hands, wearing a gown, gloves.
“These are the basic ways to prevent outbreaks and healthcare transmission,” she says.
what about the mask Can it help stop the spread of candida auris? “We don’t yet have evidence that it can be transmitted by droplets or aerosols. The fungus is known to be transmitted through direct or indirect contact with contaminated objects. We wear masks in hospitals anyway,” recalls Cécile Tremblay.
The situation at the Pierre-Boucher hospital center is worrying. However, the specialist wants to calm down.
“There is no need to panic. It is limited at the moment, but there is a heightened state of vigilance. Everything must be done to prevent further spread,” she concludes.
*** Watch the full interview with Dr. Cécile Tremblay in the video above