Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine aspects of the epidemiology of nosocomial infection due to Candida parapsilosis. Candida species are important nosocomial pathogens; however, little epidemiologic information is available.
Patients and methods: We prospectively cultured specimens from 98 patients admitted to the bone marrow transplant unit and a medicine intensive care unit (ICU) of a tertiary care hospital. Specimens from hands of personnel and environmental surfaces were also cultured. Environmental cultures were done before patients were admitted to a studied unit. Restriction enzyme analysis (REA) of chromosomal DNA was used as a typing system to determine the relatedness of strains.
Results: C. parapsilosis was identified from five patients, six hand cultures from four hospital staff, and two environmental surfaces. All five patients had negative initial cultures and acquired C. parapsilosis after admission to the study unit. There were no significant differences between patients and control subjects in age, underlying disease, immunosuppressive therapy, and instrumentation. The duration of antibiotic therapy (median: 32.8 versus 11.8 days, p = 0.05) and the duration in the unit (means: 30.1 versus 16.1 days, p = 0.048) was longer in patients than in controls. No common source was identified. REA revealed three strain types; however, one strain type was identical in four patients, three staff members, and two environmental surfaces.
Conclusion: These results suggest exogenous acquisition of C. parapsilosis. Based upon isolation of identical patient strains of C. parapsilosis from inanimate surfaces before patients were admitted to a study unit, there is evidence that the organism may have been acquired from the hospital environment. The principal mechanism of transmission was probably indirect contact via the hands of hospital personnel.