A drug-resistant and potentially deadly fungus is spreading rapidly across the United States, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) said in a report quoting federal researchers. Cases of Candida auris, discovered in Japan 15 years ago, have skyrocketed in the last few years. In 2022, it infected 2,377 people compared to 53 in 2016, the outlet further said. The swift spread of the fungus in most of the US states and 40 countries has promoted the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO) to label it as a growing threat.
In 2021, the fungus infected 1,471 people, according to CDC data.
In its advisory, the health body said that Candida auris has a mortality rate of up to 60 per cent and particularly poses risk to old people and those with compromised immune system, the WSJ report said.
The CDC's warning about its spread has been published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
Mississippi is fighting a growing outbreak of the fungus, with 12 cases recorded since November last year.
"Unfortunately, multi-drug resistant organisms such as C. auris have become more prevalent among our highest risk individuals, such as residents in long-term care facilities," Tammy Yates, spokesperson for Mississippi State Department of Health, told NBC News.
According to the CDC, the fungus can be found on the skin and throughout the body. It is not a threat to healthy people.
Candida auris commonly spreads in hospitals and nursing homes through person-to-person contact as well as contact with contaminated surfaces and equipment. The fungus can live on surfaces for several weeks, according to the CDC.
The fungus cannot be treated with traditional antifungal medicines, leading to a rise in infections.