Critically ill patients admitted to intensive care units (ICU) are highly susceptible to healthcare-associated infections caused by fungi. A prospective sequential survey of invasive fungal infections was conducted from May 2006 to April 2008 in 38 ICUs of 27 Italian hospitals. A total of 384 fungal infections (318 invasive Candida infections, three cryptococcosis and 63 mould infections) were notified. The median rate of candidaemia was 10.08 per 1000 admissions. In 15% of cases, the infection was already present at the time of admission to ICU. Seventy-seven percent of Candida infections were diagnosed in surgical patients. Candida albicans was isolated in 60% of cases, Candida glabrata and Candida parapsilosis in 13%, each. Candida glabrata had the highest crude mortality rate (60%). Aspergillus infection was diagnosed in 32 medical and 25 surgical patients. The median rate was 6.31 per 1000 admissions. Corticosteroid treatment was the major host factor. Aspergillosis was demonstrated to be more severe than candidiasis as the crude mortality rate was significantly higher (63% vs. 46%), given an equal index of severity, Simplified Acute Physiology Score (SAPS-II). The present large nationwide survey points out the considerable morbidity and mortality of invasive fungal infections in surgical as well as medical patients in ICU.
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