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Invasive Candidiasis - Systemic Candida Fungal Infections

Bloodstream infections that can be deadly


Updated April 29, 2014

Candida is one of the most common fungi to cause disease in humans. It can cause disease in the skin, the gastrointestinal tract, and the female genital tract.

Species Name: Candida

Type of Microbe: Fungi

How it causes disease: Candida is a common infection in people who have weakened immune systems, as well as a common hospital-acquired (nosocomial) infection. The fungi grows in damaged skin and can spread through the bloodstream to cause infection throughout the body.

How it spreads: Candida is a commensal organism (lives on the body without normally causing disease), but it can cause infection when it inters the bloodstream through the digestive tract. It can also be transmitted through contaminated medical equipment.

Who’s at risk? Individuals who have weakened immune systems or those taking antibiotics, corticosteroids, or chemotherapy are at higher risk for thrush. In the at-risk population, the fungi can enter the bloodstream through the digestive tract, where it is normally found. It can also enter the body via contaminated medical equipment at hospitals.

Symptoms: The bloodstream infection is characterized by fever and chills that do not improve with antibiotics. Other symptoms depend on the specific organs where the fungi have spread.

Diagnosis: Culture of blood or affected tissue or microscopic examination of affected tissues.

Prognosis: Invasive candidiasis can be fatal when the infection does not respond to treatment and organ failure leads to death.

Treatment: Candidiasis can be treated with antifungal drugs, such as fluconazole or echinocandins. Other drugs, voriconazole and amphotericin B, are also sometimes prescribed.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Division of Foodborne, Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases. Candidiasis. http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/dfbmd/disease_listing/candidiasis_gi.html. Accessed May 21, 2009.

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