"It is a creature from the black lagoon. It bubbled up and now it is everywhere."
Bacteria's ability to develop antibiotic resistance is well known — but it turns out fungi are also evolving to withstand modern medicine.
Now one such fungus is cropping up in hospitals all across the globe and killing half the people who contract it within 90 days, according to an alarming story by The New York Times — raising concerns about a new global epidemic.
Candida auris (C. auris) can infect anyone, but people with compromised immune systems, such as the elderly, are most likely to succumb to the fungus.
Doctors only just discovered C. auris a decade ago in Japan. But since then, it has shown up on every continent except Antarctica, with 587 cases reported in the United States alone.
"It is a creature from the black lagoon," Tom Chiller, head of the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) fungal branch, told the Times. "It bubbled up and now it is everywhere."
Once C. auris turns up, getting rid of it is incredibly difficult.
According to the Times, the CDC claims that more than 90 percent of C. auris infections are resistant to at least one major antifungal drug, with 30 percent resistant to two or more, and some medical facilities have had to go to such extreme lengths as tearing out their floor and ceiling tiles to completely remove traces of the fungus from a room.
READ MORE: A Mysterious Infection, Spanning the Globe in a Climate of Secrecy [The New York Times]
More on antibiotic resistance: Antibiotic Considered Obsolete May Find New Use Against Superbugs