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Volume 46, Number 6, December 2013

Reporting an outbreak of Candida pelliculosa fungemia in a neonatal intensive care unit

Hsiao-Chuan Lin, Hsiang-Yu Lin, Bai-Hong Su, Mao-Wang Ho, Cheng-Mao Ho, Ching-Yi Lee, Ming-Hsia Lin, Hsin-Yang Hsieh, Hung-Chih Lin, Tsai-Chung Li, Kao-Pin Hwang, Jang-Jih Lu

Received: April 16, 2012    Revised: June 13, 2012    Accepted: July 20, 2012   


Corresponding author:

Jang-Jih Lu 


Background and purpose: 

Fungemia in preterm infants is associated with high mortality and morbidity. This study reports an outbreak of unusual fungemia in a tertiary neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). 



Ten Candida pelliculosa bloodstream isolates were identified from six infants hospitalized in the NICU from February to March 2009. Environmental study was performed, and genetic relatedness among the 10 clinical isolates of C pelliculosa and six control C pelliculosa strains was characterized by randomly amplified polymorphic DNA assay. In vitro susceptibility of isolates to six antifungal agents was analyzed by broth microdilution method. Amphotericin B was given to infected infants and prophylactic fluconazole was prescribed to the other noninfected extremely low birth weight infants during the outbreak. 



Thrombocytopenia (platelet counts <100×109/L) was the early laboratory finding in four infants. One of six patients died, making overall mortality 17%. Fluconazole, voriconazole, amphotericin B, and micafungin provided good antifungal activity. Cultures from the environment and hands of caregivers were all negative. Molecular studies indicated the outbreak as caused by a single strain. The outbreak was controlled by strict hand washing, cohort infected patients, confined physicians and nurses to take care of patients, prophylactic fluconazole to uninfected neonates, and proper management of human milk. 



The study demonstrated the clinical importance of emerged non-albicans Candida species in NICU. For unusual pathogen isolated from immunocompromised hosts, more attention should be paid to monitor the possibility of an outbreak.


Key words:

Candida pelliculosa, Fungemia, Neonatal intensive care unit, Outbreak, Preterm