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Potentially deadly fungus rapidly spreading in hospitals and health facilities, CDC says

A potentially deadly and drug-resistant fungus is quickly spreading through U.S. health care facilities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday.

Known as Candida auris, or C.auris, the fungus presents a particular danger to very sick people and those with weakened immune systems, both NBC News and The Washington Post report. And its rapid spread, "especially in the most recent years," is "really concerning to us," Dr. Meghan Lyman, the lead author of the study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, told NBC News. "We've seen increases not just in areas of ongoing transmission, but also in new areas." The fungus has now been detected in over 50 percent of U.S. states.

That said, scientists do not believe C.auris poses a serious threat to healthy individuals. The study's findings are indeed "worrisome," but "we don't want people who watched The Last of Us to think we're all going to die," explained epidemiologist Dr. Waleed Javaid. "This is an infection that occurs in extremely ill individuals who are usually sick with a lot of other issues." For that reason, experts are most concerned about keeping hospitals and long-term care facilities clean and safe.

"If [the fungi] get into a hospital, they are very difficult to control and get out," Vanderbilt University Medical Center's William Schaffner told the Post. "They can persist, smoldering, causing infections for a considerable period of time despite the best efforts of the infection control team and everyone else in the hospital."

"About one-third of people who become sick with C.auris die," NBC reports. Thankfully, the spread can be mitigated with proper hospital hygiene, cleaning protocols, and "robust infection control plans," the Post writes.