News story

PHE responds to cases of Candida auris in England

Public Health England (PHE) has been notified of a number of cases of Candida auris (C.auris), an emerging drug-resistant yeast.

Candida is an uncommon type of fungus that can cause a range of illnesses. To date, it has only been seen in hospital patients. In some cases patients can have no symptoms. However, C. auris can lead to bloodstream, wound and ear infections.

C. auris is commonly resistant to the first-line antifungal treatment and can develop resistance to other classes of antifungal drugs. Therefore, microbiologists need to do specific tests to identify the best treatment for each patient. So far, no multi-drug resistant strains of Candida auris have been found in the UK

Sporadic cases of C. auris have been identified throughout England since 2013 and more than 40 cases seen so far have been identified in an adult critical care unit at a hospital in England which is managing an outbreak of C. auris. 2 cases have also been identified from another hospital and investigations are ongoing to identify if there are any further cases.

Dr Berit Muller-Pebody, Antimicrobial Resistance Section Head at PHE, said:

We are providing ongoing expert support and advice on additional infection control measures to limit the spread of Candida auris. Control measures introduced by the hospital’s clinicians include screening of patients, isolation of those affected, enhanced hand hygiene, enhanced cleaning, temporary closure of the affected ward and deep cleaning of all affected areas.

PHE has also informed microbiologists, acute NHS Trusts and other healthcare providers, and infection control teams nationwide, providing key guidance in order to inform the identification and reporting of any new cases, provide advice on laboratory testing and patient management to help control any spread of C. auris.

If a member of the public comes into contact with a patient who is carrying, or is infected with C. auris they should be protected by regular hand washing as a precautionary measure.