Cloth Lanyards as a Source of Intermittent Transmission of Candida auris on an ICU

Crit Care Med. 2021 Apr 1;49(4):697-701. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0000000000004843.


Objectives: Candida auris has been implicated in ICU outbreaks worldwide and is notable for being difficult to identify and treat, its resilience in the environment, and significant patient mortality associated with invasive disease. Here, we describe a small C. auris outbreak and how it was terminated.

Design: Single-center, observational.

Setting: Two general adult ICUs at an urban U.K. teaching hospital.

Patients: All patients positive for C. auris during the 5-month outbreak were included (n = 7).

Interventions: Stepwise implementation of enhanced infection prevention and control precautions was introduced including twice-weekly screening, contact tracing, isolation precautions, and environmental decontamination. A detailed environmental screen was performed to identify potential reservoirs. This included the patient bed space and clinical equipment and a frequently handled cloth lanyard attached to a key used to access controlled drugs. Personal possessions such as mobile phones, lanyards, and identification badges were also screened.

Measurements and main results: The index case and six linked acquisitions were identified. Four of six (67%) patients were identified after discharge of all known previous C. auris cases from ICU, highlighting potential for an environmental reservoir. Environmental screening identified C. auris from a patient bed space following deep cleaning, prompting review and enhancement of cleaning procedures. The controlled drug cloth lanyard was positive for C. auris, which prompted removal and culture of all staff lanyards. C. auris was identified on 1/100 staff lanyards (1%). No mobile phones or identification badges were positive for C. auris. The outbreak terminated following withdrawal of lanyards from ICU.

Conclusions: This outbreak further implicates environmental reservoirs as sustaining C. auris ICU outbreaks. Identification of C. auris on cloth lanyards highlights the need to identify commonly handled moveable objects during an outbreak. We suggest that ICUs with a C. auris outbreak should investigate similar infrequently cleaned items as potential reservoirs and review their policies on lanyard use.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Candida
  • Clothing / adverse effects*
  • Disease Transmission, Infectious / prevention & control
  • Drug Resistance, Fungal*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods*
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Male
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Middle Aged


  • Antifungal Agents