Comparison of <i>Candida</i> colonization in intensive care unit patients with and without COVID-19: First prospective cohort study from Turkey

Çaklovica Küçükkaya İ., ORHUN G., Çağatay A. A., Kalaycı S., ESEN F., Şahin F., ...More

MEDICAL MYCOLOGY, vol.62, no.5, 2024 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 62 Issue: 5
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1093/mmy/myae035
  • Journal Name: MEDICAL MYCOLOGY
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database
  • Keywords: Candida, CHROMagar Candida Plus, colonization, COVID-19, intensive care unit
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


Candida species are the primary cause of fungal infections in intensive care units (ICUs). Despite the increasing prevalence of Candida-related infections, monitoring the progression of these infections from colonization in COVID-19 ICU patients lacks sufficient information. This study aims prospectively to compare 62 COVID-19 and 60 non-COVID-19 ICU patients from admission to discharge in terms of colonization development, rates, isolated Candida species, risk factors, and Candida infections during hospitalization. A total of 1464 samples were collected at specific time intervals from various body sites [mouth, skin (axilla), rectal, and urine]. All samples were inoculated onto CHROMagar Candida and CHROMagar Candida Plus media, and isolates identified using MALDI-TOF MS. COVID-19 patients exhibited significantly higher colonization rates in oral, rectal, and urine samples compared to non-COVID-19 patients, (p < 0.05). Among the Candida species, non-albicans Candida was more frequently detected in COVID-19 patients, particularly in oral (75.8%-25%; p < 0.001) and rectal regions (74.19% - 46.66%; p < 0.05). Colonization with mixed Candida species was also more prevalent in the oropharyngeal region (p < 0.05). Mechanical ventilation and corticosteroid use emerged as elevated risk factors among COVID-19 patients (p < 0.05). Despite the colonization prevalence, both COVID-19-positive and negative patients exhibited low incidences of Candida infections, with rates of 9.67% (n = 6/62) and 6.67% (n = 3/60), respectively. Consequently, although Candida colonization rates were higher in COVID-19 ICU patients, there was no significant difference in Candida infection development compared to the non-COVID-19 group. However, the elevated rate of non-albicans Candida isolates highlights potential future infections, particularly given their intrinsic resistance in prophylactic or empirical treatments if needed. Additionally, the high rate of mixed colonization emphasizes the importance of using chromogenic media for routine evaluation.