Warning over rare fungal superbug discovered in Victorian hospital

A Victorian man has contracted a rare fungal superbug and is in isolation as health authorities issue a public warning.

It’s thought the man, aged in his 70s, might have picked up the infection while in a UK hospital, Victoria’s deputy chief health officer Brett Sutton says.

It is the first known case of Candida auris in Victoria and has prompted authorities to adopt a “search and destroy” approach to prevent an outbreak.

Dr Brett Sutton said it is the first known case of Candida auris in Victoria. Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The man was in a Melbourne hospital for a pre-existing condition when the diagnosis was made and was isolated from other patients.

“Candida auris can cause problems in hospitals and nursing homes as it can spread from one patient to another or nearby objects, allowing the fungus to spread to people around them,” the department warns.

No one else is believed to have been exposed as the man was in a single room, Dr Sutton said.

All infection control precautions are being taken and cleaning has been completed.

Dr Sutton said the fungus was often highly resistant to medicines, which made it hard to treat.

While most healthy people did not get sick from the superbug, vulnerable patients are more susceptible and may develop severe and potentially fatal infections.

The fungus can cause serious bloodstream, wound and ear infections.

A warning has been issued advising health services of the case and the steps clinicians can take if they suspect a case of the fungus.