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Candida auris infection: Patient in New York loses an eye to panophthalmitis

Candida albicans, which is related to Candida auris.


A team of doctors at Lenox Hill Hospital has reported that a patient at their facility lost an eye due to panophthalmitis, which was caused by a Candida auris infection. In their report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the group describes the patient, his symptoms and treatment.

Candida auris is a type of yeast infection. It is relatively new to science, having been discovered back in 2009. Since that time, it has spread from Japan, where it was first reported, to most of the world. Prior study has shown that is most often transferred between patients in hospitals—and most who get it have some sort of immune deficiency. In many cases, it is localized and treatable. But in some cases, it leads to candidiasis, which is where it spreads to the bloodstream, organs and the central nervous system. Very few people survive such infections. Bioscientists have expressed concern in recent years about Candida auris infections because the fungus has already developed a resistance to treatment.

In this new finding, a 30-year-old male patient came to the trauma center at Lenox Hill Hospital complaining of eye pain and loss of vision in one eye. He was diagnosed with panophthalmitis—a condition, not a disease—in which the entire eye becomes inflamed. The doctors treating him reported that the eye was damaged beyond repair. They removed it and cleaned up the socket. Lab tests showed that the inflammation was due to Candida auris—the first such infection of its kind seen in the eye. The doctors also noted that the patient did not have a compromised immune system despite having syphilis and HIV. After dispensing treatment aimed at eradicating the fungus, the patient was discharged with instructions to return for a follow-up. But he did not do so, thus it is not known if the infection was fully cleared, or if the patient infected anyone else.

The doctors who wrote the account reported that the reason they did so was to increase awareness in the medical community—to let other doctors know that panophthalmitis can in some cases be traced back to a Candida auris infection.

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