Where Invasive Candidiasis Comes From

Candida lives in and on the body

Candida, the fungus that causes invasive candidiasis, normally lives inside the body (in places such as the mouth, throat, gut, and vagina) and on the skin without causing any problems.1 In some people who are at higher risk for the infection, Candida can enter the bloodstream or internal organs and cause invasive candidiasis. For example, this can happen when a central venous catheter is inserted and left in place for a long time, during surgery, or when the immune system is weakened during chemotherapy. Healthcare workers can also carry Candida on their hands.2,3 A few outbreaks of candidemia have been linked to healthcare workers’ hands,4,5 so hand hygiene in healthcare settings is important for preventing the spread of infections.

Types of Candida

There are over hundreds of species of Candida, but only a few are known to cause infections.6 The most common species that cause infections are C. albicans, C. glabrata, C. parapsilosis, C. tropicalis, and C. krusei.

Another species called C. auris is emerging as a cause of invasive candidiasis around the world and in certain areas of the United States – read more about this concerning and often drug-resistant species.

  1. Nucci M, Anaissie E. Revisiting the source of candidemia: skin or gut?external icon Clin Infect Dis. 2001 Dec 15;33(12):1959-67.
  2. Strausbaugh LJ, Sewell DL, Ward TT, Pfaller MA, Heitzman T, Tjoelker R. High frequency of yeast carriage on hands of hospital personnelexternal icon. J Clin Microbiol. 1994 Sep;32(9):2299-300.
  3. Yildirim M, Sahin I, Kucukbayrak A, Ozdemir D, Tevfik Yavuz M, Oksuz S, et al. Hand carriage of Candida species and risk factors in hospital personnelexternal icon. Mycoses. 2007 May;50(3):189-92.
  4. Lupetti A, Tavanti A, Davini P, Ghelardi E, Corsini V, Merusi I, et al. Horizontal transmission of Candida parapsilosis candidemia in a neonatal intensive care unitexternal icon. J Clin Microbiol. 2002 Jul;40(7):2363-9.
  5. Clark TA, Slavinski SA, Morgan J, Lott T, Arthington-Skaggs BA, Brandt ME, et al. Epidemiologic and molecular characterization of an outbreak of Candida parapsilosis bloodstream infections in a community hospitalexternal icon. J Clin Microbiol. 2004 Oct;42(10):4468-72.
  6. Pappas PG. Invasive candidiasisexternal icon. Infect Dis Clin North Am. 2006 Sep;20(3):485-506.