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Superbug Fungus Sickens More Than 300 In New York State

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There is concern from the Centers for Disease Control following an outbreak of a potentially deadly drug-resistant germ in area hospitals.

More than 300 cases have been reported in New York, CBS2's Alice Gainer reported Monday.

Candida auris, a yeast fungus, was only discovered in 2009 but has quickly spread globally.

When it comes to the United States and here in our area, the CDC says New York has 309 confirmed cases, New Jersey has 104 confirmed cases and Connecticut has one.

The CDC says Candida auris is a problem because:

Superbug fungus
Candida auris, otherwise known as the Superbug fungus. (Photo: CBS2)

* It can cause bloodstream infections, wound infections, ear infections.

* It can kill you.

* It is often resistant to medicines.

* It is becoming more common.

* It's hard to identify.

* It can spread in hospitals and nursing homes through contact with affected patients and contaminated surfaces or equipment.

Dr. Eric Ascher of Lenox Hill Hospital said all kinds of fungi can be found all over the place.

The CDC says washing your hands is extremely important and is urging healthcare facilities to really clean because the bug can live on surfaces for weeks, CBS2's Gainer reported.

Ascher said, historically, over-prescribing medications has lead to drug-resistant strains.

"This might be the red flag for physicians and prescribers to change their prescribing patterns in regards to antifunguls in itsentirety," Ascher said. "A lot of times antibiotics and antifunguls are not necessarily the answer to something that will just take time and go away on its own."

CBS2 talked with several New Yorkers regarding their medication intake and what they think about over-prescribing.

"I trust my doctors," another person said.

"I generally try and wait as long as possible, but if it's recommended, at the end of the day, I'll go ahead and take it," added Jason Deutsch of Brooklyn.

Doctors say anyone can contract Candida auris, but that symptoms are hard to detect because it's often infecting people already sick.

It's also difficult to identify, and the only way to know for sure if you have it is a specific test done by a specialized laboratory.

The CDC says it's now alerting healthcare facilities in the United States to be on the lookout for Candida auris in their patients. Researchers say an estimated 162,000 people in this country die from drug-resistant infections every year.

Click here for more information from the CDC.

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