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Overview of Candida infections

Carol A Kauffman, MD
Section Editor
Kieren A Marr, MD
Deputy Editor
Anna R Thorner, MD


The clinical manifestations of infection with Candida species range from local mucous membrane infections to widespread dissemination with multisystem organ failure [1]. Although Candida are considered to be part of the normal microbiota in the gastrointestinal and genitourinary tracts of humans, they have the propensity to invade and cause disease when an imbalance is created in the ecologic niche in which these organisms usually exist. (See "Biology of Candida infections".)

The immune response of the host is an important determinant of the type of infection caused by Candida.

The most benign infections are characterized by local overgrowth on mucous membranes (oropharyngeal involvement, vaginitis) as a result of changes in the normal flora. More extensive persistent mucous membrane infections occur in individuals with deficiencies in cell-mediated immunity, such as AIDS.

Invasive focal infections, such as pyelonephritis, endocarditis, and meningitis, most often occur after hematogenous spread or when anatomic abnormalities or devices (eg, prosthetic heart valves or central nervous system shunts) are present.

In the neutropenic host or the severely ill patient in the intensive care unit, widespread visceral dissemination occurs when Candida species gain access to the bloodstream.

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Dec 05, 2017.
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