Study Pinpoints Protocols to Control Superbug Outbreak

PPE, hand hygiene, and UVC disinfection key to containing Candida auris outbreak

July 6, 2022

The emerging superbug Candida auris (C. auris) presents a challenge to hospital environmental services (EVS) staff as it can cause severe illness and remain on surfaces for an unknown length of time. A recent study published in the American Journal of Infection Control found that strict hand hygiene and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and gowns can help prevent the spread of the superbug pathogen.  

C. auris is a species of fungus that was first identified in 2009 and can cause invasive bloodstream, wound, and ear infections. It can also be found in urine and respiratory samples. 

Researchers studied how staff at a Veterans Health Administration Hospital in Columbia, South Carolina dealt with the pathogen during an outbreak in October 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. They found placing infected patients in a private room with their own equipment—as well as instructing all staff who came in contact with the patients to wear gowns and gloves and follow strict hand hygiene protocols—helped stop the spread of the pathogen. 

EVS staff cleaned and disinfected the patient areas using a bleach 1:10 solution, followed by ultraviolet (UVC) light disinfection. Following these procedures prevented C. auris from spreading to more than two patients.  

Investigators praised the hospital staff, saying they “successfully managed these competing priorities to reduce the risk of transmitting a virulent and resistant organism throughout a vulnerable population of hospitalized patients.” 

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