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'Superbug' fungus reported at Rochester hospital

(WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y, - A "superbug" fungus is spreading in New York hospitals.

44 cases have been reported across the state. 17 people with the fungus have died, including one patient at Rochester General Hospital.

The Center for Disease Control is alerting hospitals nationwide about this fungus, which is resistant to antifungal drugs.

Hospitals are now taking aggressive measures against this fungus, which is believed to be from Japan.

A fever, feeling sick, or an unexplained rash: All are symptoms linked to this super fungus.

Doctors say Candida auris is a rare, harmful form of yeast found through lab tests.

“People who have cancer, who are on chemotherapy, medication for autoimmune diseases. Those are the people that get into trouble with the Candida,” Melanie Wellington, a physician and researcher for children with infections and fungal disease at URMC, explained.

Doctors say the fungus can be found in the mouth or yeast infections.

In babies, it can be seen as diaper infections or rashes in the mouth.

In March, doctors at Rochester General Hospital saw symptoms in one patient and immediately sent the fungus to the CDC for testing.

The patient tested positive.

But doctors say the patient did not acquire the fungus in Rochester.

“They already had symptoms of infection when they came to Rochester General,” Melissa Bronstein, Director for Rochester Regional Health’s infection prevention, said.

They isolated the patient and began treatment.

“Superbug is an organism that has developed resistance. It doesn't respond to available antibiotics and to fungal agents that we would need to use,” Bronstein continued.

Experts also say they're seeing more people traveling to New York carrying the fungus with them from other countries.

The fungus can cause serious diseases, and if not treated, can be fatal.

Doctors say the best way to protect yourself from this fungus is washing your hands.

“Doing good hand hygiene is probably the number one thing to do to keep them safe,” Bronstein said.

Doctors say the patient with super fungus also had other serious health issues.

As stated, not all cases are fatal.

Treatment plans may take days or weeks.

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