A potentially deadly and drug-resistant fungal infection that causes bloodstream infections and is highly contagious has been reported in nearly three dozen cases in the U.S.
The fungus is a kind of yeast known as Candida auris has been reported overseas since 2009, according to The Washington Post.
Health officials warned physicians last summer to watch for the infection that had been reported around the world. Counties reporting cases include Colombia, India, Israel, Kenya, Kuwait, Pakistan, South Korea, Venezuela and the United Kingdom.
The Post reported that, unlike garden-variety yeast infections, this one causes serious bloodstream infections, spreads easily from person to person in health-care settings, and survives for months on skin and for weeks on bed rails, chairs and other hospital equipment. Some strains are resistant to all three major classes of antifungal drugs. Based on information from a limited number of patients, up to 60 percent of people with these infection have died. Many of them also had other serious underlying illnesses.
Those at greatest risk are individuals who have been in intensive care for a long time or who are on ventilators or have central line catheters inserted into a large vein.
Most of the cases have been reported in New York, but others have been seen in New Jersey, Maryland and Illinois.