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Candida auris is an emerging fungal pathogen causing outbreaks in healthcare facilities. Five distinctive genomic clades exhibit clade-unique characteristics, highlighting the importance of real-time genomic surveillance and incorporating genotypic information to inform infection prevention practices and treatment algorithms.
Both active and passive surveillance were used to screen hospitalized patients. C. auris polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay on inguinal-axillary swabs was performed on high-risk patients upon admission. All clinical yeast isolates were identified to the species level. C. auris isolates were characterized by both phenotypic antifungal susceptibility tests and whole-genome sequencing.
From late 2019 to early 2022, we identified 45 patients with C. auris. Most had a tracheostomy or were from a facility with a known outbreak. Moreover, 7 patients (15%) were only identified through passive surveillance. Also, 8 (18%) of the patients had a history of severe COVID-19. The overall mortality was 18%. Invasive C. auris infections were identified in 13 patients (29%), 9 (69%) of whom had bloodstream infections. Patients with invasive infection were more likely to have a central line. All C. auris isolates were resistant to fluconazole but susceptible to echinocandins. Genomic analysis showed that 1 dominant clade-III lineage is circulating in Los Angeles, with very limited intrahost and interhost genetic diversity.
We have demonstrated that a robust C. auris surveillance program can be established using both active and passive surveillance, with multidisciplinary efforts involving the microbiology laboratory and the hospital epidemiology team. In Los Angeles County, C. auris strains are highly related and echinocandins should be used for empiric therapy.
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