Aims: In spite of the importance of many species of Candida as human pathogens, little is known about their ability to survive on animate and inanimate surfaces. Such information is essential in understanding the vehicles and modes of their spread, and in designing proper infection control strategies against them. The aim of this study was to generate comparative quantitative data in this regard.
Methods and results: The survival of one clinical isolate each of Candida albicans and C. parapsilosis on two types of hard inanimate surfaces (glass and stainless steel) and two types of fabrics (100% cotton and a blend of 50% cotton and 50% polyester) was evaluated under ambient conditions (air temperature 22 +/- 2 degrees C; relative humidity 45-62%) using quantitative test protocols. The survival of C. albicans was also assessed on human skin, using the fingerpads of adult volunteers as carriers. Each carrier surface received 10 microl of the test suspension containing a soil load to simulate body fluids. When dried on glass and stainless steel carriers, C. albicans and C. parapsilosis remained viable for at least three and 14 days, respectively. Both species could survive for at least 14 days on both types of fabric. On the skin, 20% of the viable C. albicans remained detectable one hour post-inoculation.
Significance and impact of the study: This quantitative and comparative study demonstrated the potential for, and differences in the ability of clinically significant species of Candida to remain viable on porous and non-porous inanimate surfaces as well as on human hands. These results should help in understanding the epidemiology of nosocomial infections due to Candida, and in designing better prevention and control strategies against them.