Health officials around the world are sounding the alarm about a potentially-deadly fungus that was unknown to them just a decade ago.

The first official reported case of candida auris, a drug-resistant species of pathogenic fungus, occurred in Japan in 2009.  Since then, candida auris has appeared in many countries including South Korea, India, South Africa, Kuwait, Colombia, Venezuela, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, and has now caused nearly 600 infections in the United States since 2013.  Last year, two cases were logged in Victoria.

Although it's not now a problem for healthy people, candida aurisposes a threat to people with immature or compromised immune systems; that includes newborns and the elderly, smokers, diabetics, and people with autoimmune disorders who take steroids that suppress the body's defenses.  It's not clear how its transferredfrom person to person, but it can be on a healthy person's skin without them knowing.

The US Centers for Disease Control reports a fatality rate of nearly 50 percent within 90 days of infection.  The agency's fungal branch chief, Dr. Tom Chiller, described it to the paper as "a creature from the black lagoon" that "bubbled up and now it is everywhere".