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Washington's first case of potentially deadly fungus found in Pierce County

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Pierce County health officials believe a local man is the first person to contract a potentially deadly fungus in Washington state. The case has prompted the Washington State Department of Health to issue an alert.

Candida Auris can be especially dangerous for people with serious medical conditions, those who use catheters or other medical tubes, and those who have frequent hospital or nursing home stays. It often causes outbreaks in health care settings, with exposure to surfaces, equipment, and people.

The fungus can cause blood and wound infections. It prompts concern in the medical community because of its resistance to multiple drugs.

According to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, the man was first hospitalized at Saint Joseph in Tacoma for six weeks. He was moved to Seattle's Kindred Hospital First Hill, which routinely tests for Candida Auris. He then tested positive on July 13. Officials note that the man has multiple comorbidities and did not travel recently. He is being treated and has been isolated.

While Candida Auris has shown up in multiple counties, this is believed to be the first locally acquired case in Washington state.

Health officials are trying to track down people who may have had contact with the man. A person infected with the fungus can spread it, even if they have no signs of illness.

Officials say more than one-third of patients who contract the fungus die, but the risk is very low for healthy people.

Candida Auris was first identified in Japan in 2009. The Centers for Disease Control consider it an "emerging fungus that presents a serious global health threat."

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