Two deaths in 11 cases of Candida auris fungal infection since 2012: MOH
All 11 were isolated cases and there is little risk of community outbreak, says ministry
Eleven isolated cases of Candida auris infections in public hospitals here have been reported to the Ministry of Health (MOH) since 2012.
Of the 11 victims, two died while the others recovered, the ministry said yesterday in reply to The New Paper's queries.
MOH did not give details of the cases, but a letter by two researchers published in a local medical journal last year mentioned that an American man died after being infected by the fungus in 2016.
The Singapore General Hospital (SGH) confirmed yesterday that the three C. auris cases mentioned in the letter were treated in SGH.
"Each of these cases was transferred from overseas hospitals and were isolated immediately following identification, " SGH told TNP.
Infections by the super fungus made news recently after spreading across the globe.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said C. auris is resistant to anti-fungal medication and kills about half its victims in 90 days.
MOH said the 11 cases were immediately isolated, and contact tracing did not identify any disease spread. The patients' rooms were thoroughly disinfected to remove the fungus.
Its spokesman said healthcare institutions are required to report any outbreak of healthcare-associated infections, including C. auris, to MOH.
"C. auris infects individuals who are severely ill and/or have compromised immunity.
"As such individuals are typically hospitalised, it is unsurprising that C. auris cases have been found in hospital settings," the spokesman said.
C. auris infection can spread through contact with a contaminated environment, equipment or other surfaces, or through contact with affected people.
But early detection of patients with C. auris and good infection prevention practices, such as meticulous hand hygiene and environmental disinfection, can prevent its spread.
The fungus can be treated with specific anti-fungal drugs that it is susceptible to, MOH said. The C. auris cases in SGH were treated with a class of antifungal drug known as echinocandin.
Dr Ling Moi Lin, director of Infection Prevention and Epidemiology at SGH, said: "Thorough contact tracing was conducted for all individuals who came into contact with the affected patients."
She added that SGH has a rigorous hand and environment hygiene programme as part of infection prevention.
Dr Ling also noted patients carrying resistant organisms such as C. auris are immediately placed in the Isolation Ward, and after their discharge, the rooms are disinfected with ultraviolet C or hydrogen peroxide vapour treatment, which are highly effective at preventing the spread of multiple-drug-resistant bacteria or superbugs.
"We are constantly looking 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 confirmed there had been no reports of C. auris infection outbreaks.
The ministry added that the risk of C. auris infection to a healthy individual is very low.