A deadly contagious Last Of Us black fungus with a 60% mortality spread rapidly during the Covid pandemic, according to health officials.
The Candida auris fungus targets predominately elderly people with weakened immune systems but is also dangerous as it resists treatment by common anti-fungal medications. C. auris.
Scientists have moved to reassure the public that the Last Of Us, which is a popular HBO show based on the popular game developed by Naughty Dog, is highly unlikely.
Nearly half of patients who contract C. auris die within 90 days, according to The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
During the Covid pandemic local health officials reported 1,474 clinical cases of the fungus which is nearly a 200% increase from the 500 cases reported in 2019.
From 2018 to 2019, cases rose by 44% from 330 to 476, then by 59% to 756 in 2020.
There was another 95% rise reported, increasing to 1,471 cases in 2021.
Researchers at The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said it represented a "dramatic increase" in transmissions of C. auris. The fungus is now in half of the 50 states.
Although there are just a handful of cases in those states there are higher levels of the disease spreading in Texas, Florida, California and Nevada.
Dr Meghan Lyman, a medical officer in the CDC, told The New York Times it does not know how many deaths were attributed to the fungus as patients are often dealing with other health conditions.
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Health officials believe the Covid pandemic helped spread the fungus as screening for C. auris fell whilst concentration was limited to stoping the virus.
The fungus clings to nursing gowns, gloves, other personal protective gear and ventilators or other medical equipment.
Dr Lyman said she was concerned about the infection but is not surprised by its spread.
She revealed “we were worried what would happen during Covid" before adding it was “concerning but not surprising”.
The fungus is not a threat to young healthy people who can fight off it off with their immune systems but it can be transported on skin and clothing.
Symptoms include fever and chills, which can get worse without treatment, and targets older people who visit health care facilities where it can be hard to eradicate.
C auris was first reported in the US in 2016 and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) describes it as a "drug-resistant germ that spreads in healthcare facilities".
The CDC had already described it as an "urgent threat" in 2019 but statistics show that numbers have increased over the last four years.
According to health officials, case numbers more than tripled across the US between 2020 and 2021 during the covid pandemic with antibiotic-resistant strains increasing.
The fungus is thought to have a death-rate of 60 per cent of the people it infects.
However, strict hand-washing can limit the spread.