FILE – This undated photo made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a strain of Candida auris cultured in a petri dish at a CDC laboratory. (Shawn Lockhart/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP, File)

CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) — Dozens of cases of a dangerous, rapidly-spreading fungus reported in half the states in the U.S. have been detected in Northeast Ohio.

In a response to a study published by the “Annals of Internal Medicine,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week called Candida auris an “urgent antimicrobial resistance threat” spreading at an alarming rate.

“The rapid rise and geographic spread of cases is concerning and emphasizes the need for continued surveillance, expanded lab capacity, quicker diagnostic tests, and adherence to proven infection prevention and control,” said CDC epidemiologist Dr. Meghan Lyman.

What is it?

The fungus, Candida auris, is an “emerging multidrug-resistant yeast,” according to the Ohio Department of Health. It spreads easily among hospitalized patients and nursing home residents through contaminated surfaces or from person to person.

In some, the fungus can enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body, causing serious invasive infections, according to ODH. It doesn’t often respond to common anti-fungal drugs.

Ohio cases

Ohio’s first case was identified in 2020, according to ODH. According to the CDC, clinical cases include both confirmed and probable cases. Screening cases are when fungus was detected, but wasn’t known to be actively causing infection.

The following clinical and screening cases have been reported in Northeast Ohio:

— 48 cases in Cuyahoga County
— 3 cases in Lorain County
— 1 case in Summit County
— 1 case in Columbiana County.

The county with the most cases in Ohio is Hamilton County with 212.

It was first identified in Japan in 2009 and has been seen in more and more countries. The first U.S. case occurred in 2013, but it was not reported until 2016. That year, U.S. health officials reported 53 cases.