A highly contagious fungal infection, which kills 60 percent of infected, is spreading through the US – days after hit zombie TV show ‘The Last of Us’ ended. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has warned the fungus candida auris has been reported at an increasing speed in recent years. It was first reported in the US in 2016 and has since spread to at least 35 states.
Dr Meghan Lyman, CDC’s mycotic diseases branch chief, said the increase of cases is “really concerning to us”.
“We’ve seen increases not just in areas of ongoing transmission, but also in new areas,” Dr Lyman said.
The CDC expert also reported an increasing number of samples of the fungus had been found to be resisting common treatments for it.
Fungal infections have gained increased attention in recent months due to huge interest in HBO show ‘The Last of Us’ which tells the story of humans turning into zombies after being invaded by cordyceps.
Epidemiologist Dr Waleed Javaid admitted the spread of the fungus and its behaviour is “worrisome” for scientists.
However, he insisted the complications caused by the candida auris fungus are most likely to be found in individuals with an already compromised immune system.
The Mount Sinai Downtown expert told NBC: “We don’t want people who watched ‘The Last Of Us’ to think we’re all going to die.
“This is an infection that occurs in extremely ill individuals who are usually sick with a lot of other issues.”
According to the CDC, candida auris can cause “bloodstream infections, wound infections, and ear infections”.
However, it is unlikely to be a problem for healthy people who do not have medical devices such as catheters, inserted into their blood vessels, Javaid said.
They added: “It also has been isolated from respiratory and urine specimens, but it is unclear if it causes infections in the lung or bladder.”
The fungus was first discovered in 2009 in Japan and scientists have suggested a rise in temperatures has contributed to its rapid spread worldwide.
Mississippi has been experiencing a growing outbreak of the fungus as officials report 12 people have become infected with candida auris since November.
Local authorities also reported four “potentially associated deaths” since the fungus was first recorded in the state.
A recent study from the CDC showed that a third of people who had become infected with candida auris died.
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