Seattle's King County reports its first known Candida auris outbreak

News brief

Seattle and King County Public Health this week reported the county's first known outbreak of Candida auris, which was identified through proactive screening at a long-term acute care hospital.

hand on hospital bed rail

In a statement, health officials said that, as of January 30, four colonization cases have been reported in patients with links to Kindred Hospital Seattle-First Hill, a long-term acute-care hospital. At least two are thought to have acquired the fungus at the facility, and the source for the other two is under investigation. No deaths have been reported.

Death rate as high as 40%

C auris is spreading at an alarming pace in US healthcare facilities and has been detected in at least 27 states. First identified in Japan in 2009, C auris has shown resistance to three classes of antifungal drugs and can cause invasive infections in vulnerable patients. Case-fatality rates range from 30% to 40%. As a result, many US facilities have rolled out C auris screening programs to identify patients colonized with the fungus.

Kindred Hospital Seattle-First Hill began regular C auris screening in 2022, which led to the identification of the state's first suspected locally acquired case in 2023.

Regarding the outbreak, the health department urged other facilities to screen patients who had been admitted to Kindred Hospital Seattle-First Hill since October 1, 2023. It also said healthcare facilities can consider casting a broader net to screen patients who had been at Kindred since June 2023, which was when the last facility-wide screening occurred.

New estimates show latest COVID vaccine cuts risk of symptomatic infection

News brief
covid vax
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Today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, researchers published findings showing adults who received an updated 2023-24 COVID-19 vaccine were 54% less likely to have symptomatic infection than those who didn't, and the vaccine was found to protect against JN.1 and other circulating variants.

This is one of the first studies to update 2023-24 COVID vaccine effectiveness (VE) data. The monovalent (single-strain) booster vaccine derived from XBB.1.5 was approved for use in all Americans 6 months and older on September 12, 2023, but uptake has been low. Moreover, the XBB strains of the virus, which the vaccine was based on, are no longer the dominant strains in the United States, having been replaced by JN.1 in December 2023.

Researchers calculated VE from 9,222 total eligible COVID-19 tests obtained from pharmacy testing conducted during September 2023 through last month. Overall VE among adults was 54% (95% confidence interval [CI], 46% to 60%) at a median of 52 days after vaccination.

No substantial waning noted

"These early estimates include the period only through 119 days since vaccination, a relatively brief postvaccination period, with no substantial waning," the authors wrote.

"Because consistent patterns of waning VE were observed after original monovalent and bivalent COVID-19 vaccination, waning of VE is expected with more time since updated vaccination, especially against less severe outcomes such as symptomatic infection."

Waning of VE is expected with more time since updated vaccination, especially against less severe outcomes such as symptomatic infection.

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