Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2021 Mar 13. doi: 10.1007/s10096-021-04199-1. Online ahead of print.
Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC), considered the second cause of genital infection among women, has pathogenic mechanisms still to be elucidated and unknown risk factors. Prevalence studies with laboratory diagnosis (at first diagnosis and recurrence) are uncommon, especially using MALDI TOF, used in this clinical, epidemiological, and laboratory study for evaluating candidiasis, and identifying unknown risk factors. To obtain clinical and epidemiological data, patients were questioned, and there was material collection. Samples collected were identified by using phenotypic and presumptive methods and confirmed by MALDI TOF. This study analyzed 278 patients, divided into symptomatic (n = 173) and asymptomatic (n = 105) groups. Regarding the main candidiasis symptoms (discharge, itching, and burning), only 50.3% of patients described these concomitant symptoms, showing a positive predictive value of 67.8%. Regarding the risk factors investigated, there was a statistical correlation between candidiasis and dairy products, gut transit, contraceptive use, respiratory allergy, and panty liners, describing new risk factors related to intestinal and vaginal dysbiosis. After Candida species analysis and confirmation, the primary prevalence was 80.9% (Candida albicans), 15.2% (non-albicans), 1% (Rhodotorula mucilaginosa), and 1.9% (unidentified species). In recurrence, the prevalence was 66.7% (C. albicans) and 33.3% (non-albicans). The presence of symptoms has low positive predictive value for the diagnosis of candidiasis, even when considering the classic triad of symptoms. Laboratory identification of yeast species is essential for correct treatment, preventing the resistance to antifungals and the high recurrence. In addition, dairy products and bowel habits, both related to intestinal and vaginal dysbiosis, may be associated with VVC.