Purpose: The aim of this study was to assess the epidemiology of candidemia and antifungal susceptibility profiles of Candida isolates in Italy through a prospective surveillance study and to evaluate changes compared to a previous survey performed in one Italian region (Lombardy) in 1997-1999.
Methods: A prospective laboratory-based surveillance of candidemia was performed in Italy from January to December 2009. For each case a questionnaire was filled in, and the first isolate was collected and tested for in vitro antifungal susceptibility.
Results: During our 12-month survey, 467 episodes of candidemia were reported from 34 centres (30 located in Lombardy) and 464 isolates collected. Candida albicans was the predominant species (overall incidence 50.4 %), but the proportion varied considerably from 52.1 % in Lombardy hospitals to 45.2 % hospitals located outside this region. The second most frequent species was C. glabrata in Lombardy and C. parapsilosis in other regions. Comparison of the 1997-1999 and 2009 data on episodes of candidemia in Lombardy revealed a threefold increase in incidence (from 0.38 to 1.19 per 1,000 admissions), aging of infected patients, decline in crude mortality (from 35 to 27.1 %) and an increased proportion of C. glabrata etiology (from 12.8 to 20.3 %). Susceptibility testing confirmed the broad activity of amphotericin B and echinocandins. Decreased susceptibility to fluconazole was found in 24.9 % of the tested isolates.
Conclusions: The results of this latest survey confirm the high rate of candidemia in Italy and show changes in some of the epidemiological tracts, such as aging of infected patients, increased proportion of C. glabrata infections, increased diagnosis in medical wards, and improvement in patients' survival.