MOH: Total of 11 cases of Candida Auris known in Singapore since 2012
The Ministry of Health (MOH) has told The New Paper that between 2012 and this year, there were 11 cases of Candida auris infections at public hospitals reported.
Of those cases, two people died and nine recovered from the infection.
According to the ministry, the cases were immediately isolated and contact tracing conducted by the hospitals had not identified any disease spread. The patients’ rooms were thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to remove the fungus.
Singapore General Hospital (SGH) told TNP that three cases – which occurred between 2012 and 2017 – were treated there.
The ministry spokesman said: “Healthcare institutions are required to report any outbreak of healthcare-associated infections, including Candida auris infections, to the Ministry of Health.
“While C. auris is not a legally notifiable disease in Singapore, it has been included in the updated list of pathogens for the public health laboratory surveillance programme since 2018 to enable a coordinated and broad-based response to infectious threats of public health importance.”
MOH said: “C. auris infection occurs in healthcare settings among patients with weakened immune systems, severe underlying diseases, or who are exposed to medical procedures and devices such as urinary catheters and surgery.”
According to the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Candida auris is resistant to anti-fungal medication and kills about half of all its victims within 90 days.
In a statement released on Tuesday (April 9), the local tertiary hospital told TNP: “Each of these cases was transferred from overseas hospitals and were isolated immediately following identification.”
MOH told TNP that C. auris infection can spread through contact with a contaminated environment, equipment or other surfaces, or through contact with affected persons.
However, early detection of patients infected with C. auris, as well as good infection prevention and control practices, such as meticulous hand hygiene and environmental disinfection, prevent its spread.
The fungus can be treated with specific anti-fungal drugs that the fungus is susceptible to.
The Candida auris at SGH were treated with the class of antifungal drug known as echinocandin.
According to Dr Ling Moi Lin, Director, Infection Prevention and Epidemiology, Singapore General Hospital, the current known mode of transmission for Candida auris is by contact transmission and not droplet or airborne transmission.
She added: “Thorough contact tracing was conducted for all individuals who came into contact with the affected patients.”
Dr Ling said that as part of an active infection prevention programme, SGH has a rigourous hand and environment hygiene programme.
She said: “Patients carrying resistant organisms such as Candida auris are immediately isolated in the Isolation Ward, and upon discharge, the rooms are subjected to terminal cleaning and disinfection of the environment is carried out with ultraviolet C or hydrogen peroxide vapor treatment.”
Ultraviolet C and hydrogen peroxide vapour are both powerful and well-known disinfection methods, and are highly effective at killing and preventing the spread of multiple-drug-resistant bacteria or super-bugs.
Dr Ling said: “We are constantly on a close look out for any new infectious diseases. We are in communication with the relevant authorities; there has been no outbreak or spread in the community.”
MOH also said that no outbreak of C. auris infections has been reported to the ministry.
MOH spokesman said: “Healthcare institutions in Singapore have infection prevention and control measures in place to prevent and control any healthcare-associated infections, including C. auris.
“All public hospitals also have facilities to isolate infected patients when necessary. They are also required to adequately disinfect equipment and the environment of infected patients.”
The ministry added that the risk of C. auris infection to a healthy individual is very low.