Objectives: To assess the changing epidemiology of candidemia in the 1990s, to evaluate the clinical implications for the presence of non-Candida albicans in blood, and to evaluate the presence of antifungal resistance in relation to prior antifungal administration.
Design: Multicenter prospective observational study of patients with positive blood cultures for Candida species or Torulopsis glabrata.
Setting: Four tertiary care medical centers.
Results: Four hundred twenty-seven consecutive patients were enrolled. The frequency of candidemia due to non-C. albicans species significantly increased in each hospital throughout the 3.5-year study period (P = 0.01). Thirteen percent of candidemias occurred in patients who were already receiving systemic antifungal agents. Candidemias developing while receiving antifungal therapy were more likely caused by non-C. albicans species than by C. albicans species (P = 0.0005). C. parapsilosis and C. krusei were more commonly seen with prior fluconazole therapy, whereas T. glabrata was more commonly seen with prior amphotericin B therapy. Candida species isolated during episodes of breakthrough candidemia exhibited a significantly higher MIC to the antifungal agent being administered (P < 0.001).
Conclusion: In this large scale study, the non-C. albicans species, especially T. glabrata, emerged as important and frequent pathogens causing fungemia. This finding has major clinical implications given the higher complication and mortality rate associated with the non-C. albicans species. The change in the pattern of candidemia might be partly attributed to the increase in number of immunocompromised hosts and the widespread use of prophylactic or empiric antifungal therapy. This is an ominous sign given the in vitro resistance of the non-C. albicans species to currently available antifungal agents.