BACKGROUND: Emergence of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a major healthcare threat. Apparently, the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is armed by special abilities to spread and dysregulate the immune mechanisms. The likelihood of oropharyngeal candidiasis (OPC) development in COVID-19 patients with a list of attributable risk factors for oral infections has not yet been investigated.
OBJECTIVES: We here aim to investigate the prevalence, causative agents and antifungal susceptibility pattern of OPC in Iranian COVID-19 patients.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: A total of 53 hospitalised COVID-19 patients with OPC were studied. Relevant clinical data were mined. Strain identification was performed by 21-plex PCR and sequencing of the internal transcribed spacer region (ITS1-5.8S-ITS2). Antifungal susceptibility testing to fluconazole, itraconazole, voriconazole, amphotericin B, caspofungin, micafungin and anidulafungin was performed according to the CLSI broth dilution method.
RESULTS: In 53 COVID-19 patients with OPC, cardiovascular diseases (52.83%) and diabetes (37.7%) were the principal underlying conditions. The most common risk factor was lymphopaenia (71%). In total, 65 Candida isolates causing OPC were recovered. C albicans (70.7%) was the most common, followed by C glabrata (10.7%), C dubliniensis (9.2%), C parapsilosis sensu stricto (4.6%), C tropicalis (3%) and Pichia kudriavzevii (=C krusei, 1.5%). Majority of the Candida isolates were susceptible to all three classes of antifungal drugs.
CONCLUSION: Our data clarified some concerns regarding the occurrence of OPC in Iranian COVID-19 patients. Further studies should be conducted to design an appropriate prophylaxis programme and improve management of OPC in critically ill COVID-19 patients.