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Deadly Fungal Infection Reported in Several States [VIDEO]

Update Date: Mar 13, 2017 07:03 AM EDT

The Centers for Disease and Control Prevention warned that a type of fungus called Candida Auris is a potentially serious health risk. It has been reported in Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey, with the highest number of cases in New York.

The fungus was first identified in Japan but a review of the strain collections show that it appeared earlier in South Korea. Since then, infections have been seen in many other countries including Canada, Colombia, Germany, India, Israel, Kenya, Kuwait, Norway, Pakistan, Spain, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Venezuela, and the United States, CDC reported.

In Latin, Auris means "ear," but it can affect other parts of the body. It can cause bloodstream and wound infections that could spread.

A person could die from the infection caused by Candida Auris. This conclusion is based on data of a limited number of patients which shows a 60 percent death rate. However, CDC stressed that the patients were seriously ill at the time and their risk of death was higher.

It is still unclear how the deadly fungal infection spread but there is a reason to suspect that a contaminated surface or equipment in healthcare settings could facilitate it. It can also be contracted from an infected person. People of all ages could get the infection but there is a higher risk for patients who have undergone surgery or have used central venous catheter before being exposed to the fungus. Diabetes and broad-spectrum antibiotic and antifungal use are risk factors as well.

A cause for concern is that some of these infections are resistant to all three main classes of antifungal medications. In a briefing in Washington, Anne Schuchat, CDC's acting director, described the infection as increasing, new and scary-difficult to combat, the Washington Post reported.

In cooperation with state and local health departments, CDC is looking into the cases of the deadly fungal infection.

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