What is the cause behind the increase in ‘Candida auris’ infections and why is it considered an ‘urgent threat’ in the U.S.?

What is the cause behind the increase in ‘Candida auris’ infections and why is it considered an ‘urgent threat’ in the U.S.?

This Tuesday, the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued an alert to healthcare facilities warning of the threat posed by a rise in infections from the fungus Candida auris. According to agency data, from 2019 to the present there has been a doubling of detected cases of the disease caused by this pathogen potentially lethal.

Underdiagnosed cases

C. auris is a fungal species (a fungus) that. is easily transmittedfor example through contact with contaminated surfaces or infected persons. Under normal conditions, it poses no danger to most patients; however, in people with weakened immune systems or who have open ‘pathways’ into their body (catheters, lines, etc.) it can lead to infection that reaches the brain, blood or lungs and causes death in up to one-third of all cases.

Details of this worrying increase in incidence are set out in the scientific journal. Annals of Internal Medicine. In it, it explains that the fungus was first detected in 2016 in the United States; since then, it has gone on to be present in half of the territories of the country.

Archival image of Candida auris fungus.

In a press release, the CDC has detailed that the rise in the incidence of this fungus (one of those considered by the World Health Organization to be among the most resistant to treatment) may be due to several reasons: on the one hand, an increase in screening (more is found simply because more is sought) and, on the other, because of the stress placed on public health systems by the covid-19 pandemic.

Regarding the former, however, the entity warns that it is estimated that, even after the increase in testing for the fungus, is still under-diagnosed and that healthcare providers do not screen as often as would be desirable. Especially, considering that it is not until the presence of the fungus is detected that action can begin to be taken against its spread.


Meghan Lyman, Kaitlin Forsberg, Joseph Sexton et al. Worsening Spread of Candida auris in the United States, 2029 to 2021. Annals of Internal Medicine (2023). DOI:

CDC. Increasing Threat of Spread of Antimicrobial resistant Fungus in Healthcare Facilities. CDC Newsroom (2023). Accessed online on 03/22/2023

Kayleigh Williams