LONDON (Reuters) – A rare fungus that can cause drug-resistant infections has been found in around 200 patients in more than 55 hospitals across Britain, health officials said on Tuesday.
Around a quarter of the cases of Candida auris have caused infections with symptoms, Public Health England (PHE) said, including in 27 patients who developed blood stream infections.
The fungus, also known as C. auris and first identified in Japan eight years ago, is rare and low-risk, but has a propensity to spread between hospital patients.
“Most cases detected have not shown symptoms or developed an infection as a result of the fungus,” said Colin Brown, a microbiologist with PHE’s national infection service.
He said health service staff were working with PHE experts to limit the fungus’s spread.
First isolated from the ear of a patient in Japan in 2009, C. auris has since been linked with bloodstream and wound infections, and with ear infections known as otitis, in at least eight other countries including South Africa, Kuwait, India and Venezuela.
The first case of infection in Britain was in 2013.
PHE said in a statement that as of the start of last month, 20 hospitals had detected more than 200 patients colonized or infected with C. auris. Three hospitals had large outbreaks that had “proved difficult to control”, it said, although all three have now been declared clear.
At least 35 other hospitals have had patients known to be colonized with C. auris transferred to them.
Reporting by Kate Kelland, editing by Pritha Sarkar