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Nancy Wengenack, Ph.D., explains why Candida auris fungus is concerning

A specific type of fungal species, Candida auris, is raising concern in health care facilities around the world. First discovered in Japan in 2009, Candida auris is responsible for an increasing number of serious and often fatal fungal infections.

Candida auris spreads easily and is multi-drug resistant, making it difficult to treat in infected patients. It presents as an infection in the blood stream, a wound, or an ear that does not improve with antibiotic therapy. It also looks similar to other Candida species under a microscope, so proper testing is imperative.

Nancy Wengenack, Ph.D.

“Its characteristics are not distinct enough to allow scientists to tell it apart from the other species by just looking at it under a microscope,” says Nancy Wengenack, Ph.D., director of the Mycology and Mycobacteriology Laboratories at Mayo Clinic Laboratories. “Specialized laboratory tests such as a targeted PCR (polymerase chain reaction) assay or culture followed by MALDI-TOF (matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight) mass spectrometry are needed to definitively identify Candida auris. A lack of proper testing and diagnosis could lead to delayed or inappropriate treatment.”

Read more in Mayo Clinic’s research magazine, Discovery’s Edge.

Luci Gens

Luci Gens is a marketing manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories. She joined Mayo Clinic in 2022 and has over ten years of experience in hospital-based marketing and communications.