Fungal infections are an important cause of morbidity and mortality in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). The identification of specific risk factors supports prevention of candidemia in neonates. Effective prophylactic strategies have recently become available, but the identification and adequate management of high-risk infants is still a priority. Prior colonization is a key risk factor for candidemia. For this reason, surveillance studies to monitor incidence, species distribution, and antifungal susceptibility profiles, are mandatory. Among 520 infants admitted to our NICU between January 2013 and December 2014, 472 (90.77%) were included in the study. Forty-eight out of 472 (10.17%) patients tested positive for Candida spp. (C.), at least on one occasion. All the colonized patients tested positive for the rectal swab, whereas 7 patients also tested positive for the nasal swab. Fifteen out of 472 patients (3.18%) had more than one positive rectal or nasal swab during their NICU stay. Moreover, 9 out of 15 patients tested negative at the first sampling, suggesting they acquired Candida spp. during their stay. Twenty-five of forty-eight (52.1%) colonized patients carried C.albicans and 15/48 (31.25%) C.parapsilosis. We identified as risk factors for Candida spp. colonization: antibiotic therapy, parenteral nutrition, the use of a central venous catheter, and nasogastric tube. Our experience suggests that effective microbiological surveillance can allow for implementing proper, effective and timely control measures in a high-risk setting.
Key words: Candida, surveillance, NICU