The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed our perspective on hygiene and cleanliness. However, as we have become more aware of the importance of proper disinfection, a new challenge has emerged in the medical sector: tripling the number of Candida Auris cases. This drug-resistant fungus has started to spread rapidly in various environments, especially in healthcare settings, endangering vulnerable patients and burdening healthcare systems.
Candida Auris is a highly resistant fungal pathogen that can survive on surfaces for varying periods of time, depending on the material, temperature, and humidity conditions. It can survive on wet surfaces for up to 7 days, reaching nearly 100% viability, and on non-porous plastic surfaces for up to 14 days, efficiently growing at temperatures between 37 and 40°C.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, patient care in intensive care units and prolonged use of antibiotics and antifungals contributed to the spread of Candida Auris. Infections associated with this fungus can be extremely serious, especially for people with weakened immune systems or underlying health conditions. Being an extremely resistant pathogen, it is essential to find effective methods to eradicate it from surfaces that come into direct contact with people.
Reasons for the increase in Candida Auris Cases after the COVID-19 Pandemic:
- Excessive use of antibiotics: During the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitalized patients with severe infections were treated with strong antibiotics to combat the virus and associated complications. This excessive use of antibiotics led to the emergence of resistant strains of Candida Auris.
- Overburdened healthcare systems: Overcrowded hospitals and intensive care units due to COVID-19 patients made it challenging to maintain infection control measures. This created favorable environments for the rapid spread of nosocomial infections, including Candida Auris.
- Weakened patient immunity: Individuals who have experienced severe COVID-19 infections may have weakened immune systems, making them more susceptible to other infections, including Candida Auris.
What is Candida Auris and how does it spread?
Candida Auris is a rapidly spreading fungus that poses a significant global health risk to people worldwide. Understanding its mode of transmission is crucial to determine the most effective method of eradicating this harmful pathogen.
One worrisome characteristic of this fungus is its resistance to medications, leading to highly challenging and costly treatment of Candida Auris infections. Initially described in 2009, the fungus primarily spreads through contaminated surfaces in healthcare settings. It can also persist on surfaces for prolonged periods, including medical equipment, furniture, and facilities, facilitating its rapid dissemination in high-traffic environments like hospitals and medical centers.
According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, the incidence of Candida Auris tripled after the COVID-19 pandemic, as evidenced by data published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Infectious disease experts suggest that the pandemic may have exacerbated the already increasing fungal epidemic by diverting attention and resources from efforts to slow down the transmission of Candida Auris. In some cases, necessary practices to protect healthcare workers and patients, such as mask reuse, might have contributed to the fungus’s spread.
There are only three classes of drugs used to treat patients with C. auris, compared to approximately over 6 types of antibiotics used for bacterial infections. Resistance to any of these drugs severely limits clinicians’ options to suppress the infection. In this context, prevention and infection control measures have become a major priority to reduce the spread of this dangerous fungus.
The main reasons why Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are concerned about this fungus are:
- Candida Auris often displays resistance to multiple medications, rendering it “immune” to numerous antifungal drugs commonly used for treating Candida infections. Some strains even exhibit resistance to all three types of currently available antifungals.
- Identification of Candida Auris poses challenges using standard laboratory methods, and misidentification may occur in labs without specific technology. This misinterpretation could lead to incorrect treatment approaches.
- Candida Auris has been linked to outbreaks of infection in numerous healthcare facilities. Therefore, it is crucial to promptly diagnose C. Auris in patients currently under medical care. This enables medical units to implement additional safety measures to prevent the spread of infection.
The Efficiency of UV Light Disinfection Robots
The efficacy of ultraviolet (UV) light has gained significant attention as an efficient solution for combating Candida Auris fungus. Numerous studies and scientific evidence have examined the suitability of germicidal UV lamps for surface disinfection against Candida Auris.
UV-based devices, employing 245 nm ultraviolet radiation, are utilized for both air and surface disinfection, effectively deactivating a wide range of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. UV-C light, with wavelengths ranging from 200 to 280 nanometers, demonstrates remarkable efficiency in disrupting the DNA and RNA of these pathogens, rendering them incapable of reproducing.
A noteworthy study published by the National Library of Medicine in the United States in 2019 confirms that Candida Auris can be effectively eradicated through UV light surface disinfection. Variants of Candida Auris have shown regional variations, with cases reported in diverse areas such as Japan, Venezuela, India, and Korea. In all instances, UV light disinfection robots achieved optimal results.
UVC Light for Surface Disinfection
According to the characteristics of the two mobile autonomous robots for surface and air UVC disinfection, produced by the Romanian manufacturer – Wolf-e Robotics, for a 4×4 square meter room:
- WolfBOT requires 1.4 minutes to disinfect and destroy Candida difficile spores by 99.9999%. The device has a power of 2000W and an irradiance of 6630μW/cm2 (@1m).
- CoBOT-Ultra needs 49 seconds to disinfect and destroy Candida difficile spores by 99.9999%. The device has a power of 3250W and an irradiance of 11320µW/cm2 (@1m).
At a wavelength of 254 nanometers, the robots can inactivate Candida auris, recording a 6-log reduction (99.9999%). This effect is evident and can be demonstrated anytime through laboratory analyses as well as conventional or electronic dosimeters. For more details, you can also refer to the article – We “illuminate” UVC disinfection.
Pathogen-fighting UVC robots in the forefront of disinfection
In recent years, there has been a growing popularity in using UV-C light-based smart devices for disinfection in medical centers, hospitals, healthcare facilities, and other high-risk areas prone to infection transmission. However, the real efficiency lies in mobile autonomous UV-C disinfection robots. With their ability to disinfect both surfaces and air, these robots play a critical role in minimizing the spread of Candida Auris and other associated infections.
One of the primary advantages of UV-C disinfection robots is their autonomy, which allows them to access hard-to-reach areas that might be challenging for manual cleaning. These robots can be programmed to disinfect rooms and surfaces based on the specific activities of each center, thereby reducing the risk of Candida Auris and other pathogens’ transmission, and safeguarding the well-being of medical staff and patients.
UV-C light disinfection robots can contribute to reducing the number of Candida Auris infections in the following ways:
- Enhanced disinfection effectiveness: These robots can efficiently cover large areas and quickly disinfect both surfaces and the air in rooms. UV-C light possesses potent germicidal properties, effectively destroying the DNA of microorganisms and hindering their ability to reproduce. Additionally, the UV-C light can access hard-to-reach corners and areas, ensuring comprehensive and uniform disinfection of the spaces.
- Reduced reliance on chemical substances: Conventional disinfection methods often involve the use of powerful chemical substances that can be harmful and may lead to the development of resistance in microorganisms. UV-C light robots eliminate the need for chemical substances, mitigating this risk.
- Minimized human interaction: The utilization of UV-C light robots for disinfection can decrease the exposure of medical personnel to potential infections. These robots can operate autonomously without constant supervision, reducing the need for human intervention during the disinfection process.
- Cost-effectiveness: UV-C light disinfection robots are designed to be energy-efficient, resulting in reduced energy consumption and lower costs associated with human personnel involvement.
We are Wolf-e Robotics, and every day we work to support our mission of disinfecting the air and surfaces in the places where we work, learn, and spend our time. Through disinfection with intelligent UVC light equipment and mobile robots, we provide the most efficient and environmentally friendly method of inactivating microorganisms on surfaces and in the air. With applicability in the medical, commercial, transportation, education, and corporate sectors.