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What is the clinical significance of Candida albicans?

Candida albicans is a fungus that is known to cause mild to severe infection in patients. Candidiasis is a fungal infection caused by yeasts that belong to the genus Candida. There are over 20 species ofCandida yeasts that are known to cause infection in humans, with the most common being Candidaalbicans. Candida yeasts normally live on the skin and mucous membranes without causing infection; however overgrowth of these organisms can cause symptoms to develop. Candidiasis that develops in the mouth or throat is called thrush or oropharyngeal candidiasis. Candidiasis in the vagina is commonly referred to as a yeast infection. Invasive candidiasis occurs when Candida species enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body. This transmission can happen if medical equipment or devices, particularly intravenous catheters, become contaminated with Candida. In either case, the infection may spread through the bloodstream and infect various organs. Candidemia (a bloodstream infection with Candida), is the fourth most common bloodstream infection among hospitalized patients in the United States.

People at high risk for developing candidemia include:

  • Intensive Care Patients
  • Surgical Patients
  • Patients with a central venous catheter
  • People whose immune systems are weakened (such as HIV/AIDS and Oncology patients)
  • Very low birth weight infants

To appropriately mitigate the clinical risk of transmission of Candida albicans, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following evidence-based interventions:

  • Appropriate Use of Skin Antiseptics
  • Appropriate Hand Hygiene when Indicated
  • Use of an EPA-registered disinfectant
  • Reduce inappropriate use of antibiotics
  • Remove invasive catheters as soon as no longer medically necessary

 

Source: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

http://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/Candidiasis/invasive/

http://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/pubs.html

http://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/index.html