Called Candida auris, it is resistant to all existing treatments and has been worrying health officials since outbreaks were recently reported across the US. The yeast infection was first identified in Asia in 2009 and has been recently detected in a Washington DC care home and at two hospitals in Dallas, Texas.
Several of the cases showed themselves as resistant to three major classes of medications.
Dr Meghan Lyman, a medical officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said: “This is really the first time we’ve started seeing clustering of resistance in which patients seemed to be getting the infections from each other.”
The infection is considered extremely dangerous to elderly patients or those with serious medical problems.
It is most deadly when it enters the bloodstream, heart or brain, the CDC said.
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But some health experts have warned that the elderly and clinically vulnerable can be more at risk of picking up other infections, should they be hospitalised with Covid.
Should this infection arrive in the UK, it could create havoc in healthcare settings – already struggling to deal with the strain Covid has created.
And its resistance to treatment could lead to it becoming a so-called “superbug”.
Health officials have been warning about the dangers of such infections for years.
MRSA was one such bacteria that developed a resistance to antibiotics.
This left the clinically vulnerable at risk of dying or becoming seriously ill if they caught it because with drugs unable to fight it – their already weakened immune systems were the only line of defence.
The CDC recorded numerous untreatable cases of Candida auris seen between January and April this year.
In total 101 Candida auris cases were found in a care home for severely sick patients in Washington DC and found three that were resistant to all three kinds of antifungal medications.
Another cluster of 22 cases in two Dallas hospitals included two that were resistant.
Out of the five people who were fully resistant to treatment, three died.
Dr Lyman said both are ongoing outbreaks, and more infections have been identified since April.