Candida auris is difficult to identify with standard laboratory methods. It can be misidentified in labs without specific technology, which can lead to mismanagement.

In a study of 596 patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) who were admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU), 15 (2.5%) had bloodstream infections caused by the drug-resistant “superbug” Candida. 1 in 10 patients the predominant agent was Candida auris. While 3 were infected with C. albicans, 1 with C. tropicalis, and 1 with C. krusei. Two of the patients had hospital-acquired COVID-19.

Eight of the patients with candidemia died. That’s a death rate of 53%. Among those with C. auris, the death rate was 60%. “Of note,” the researchers say: 4 patients who died experienced persistent fungemia and despite 5 days of micafungin therapy, C. auris again grew in blood culture.

Data like those are why the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls Candida a “serious global health threat.” In a 2017 interview with STAT, Anne Schuchat, MD, then acting director of the CDC, called C. auris a “catastrophic threat” to society.2 At that point at least 61 patients had been diagnosed with C. auris infection; the count was soon to rise to 98.