A deadly, drug-resistant, superbug fungus is spreading around the world in what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling "a serious global health threat."
Doctors have diagnosed Candida auris in almost 600 people in 12 states in the United States, with the largest concentration in New York, and in more than 30 countries.
The fungus, which is mostly found in hospitals and nursing homes and mostly infects those with weakened immune systems, was first identified in 2009 in the ear of a 70-year-old Japanese woman.
C. auris, which is deadly in 1 out of every 3 patients, according to the CDC, is blamed for most bloodstream infections in hospitals. Almost half of those who do contract the illness die within 90 days.
"It's pretty much unbeatable and difficult to identify," Dr. Lynn Sosa, the deputy state epidemiologist in Connecticut, told The New York Times. The fungus is "the top threat among resistant infections," she said.
The CDC said 90% of C. auris infections are resistant to at least one drug and 30% are resistant to two or more, yet researchers still don't know where it came from.
The agency lists three main reasons for why experts are so concerned with C. auris: It is often resistant to multiple antifungal drugs commonly used to treat Candida infections; it's hard to identify and is easily misidentified, which may lead to inappropriate treatment; and it causes outbreaks at hospitals and nursing homes and is hard to contain once it spreads.
The CDC is trying to track the bug and has urged all local and state health authorities to notify the agency when a case is identified or if an outbreak occurs.
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