An Australian state has reported its first case of a superbug in a hospital patient who may have picked up the drug-resistant fungus in Britain.
Victoria deputy chief health officer Brett Sutton said health officials are taking a “search and destroy” approach to ensure the Candida auris fungus does not spread after a man in his 70s was diagnosed.
Mr Sutton said: “The patient has not been infected by the condition, but has been colonised.”
He added that the patient was a carrier without symptoms and it was likely he had acquired the organism in a British hospital.
The man was being treated in a hospital in Melbourne for a medical condition when the diagnosis was made.
No details were given about when the man was in Britain.
In 2017 at least 55 hospitals in the UK were hit by the superbug, with more than 200 patients infected.
Health officials will screen other patients at the hospital who may have been in contact with the virus.
The fungus was first identified in Japan in 2009 and has since spread to more than a dozen countries, including the US, where it has become a menace in hospitals in New York and New Jersey.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a single case of the fungus had previously been reported from Australia.
Elderly people and babies are most vulnerable to the fungus, which tends to be diagnosed in patients when they have been in hospital for several weeks.
The fungus can infect wounds, ears and the bloodstream.
The Victoria health department said: “C auris can cause bloodstream infections and even death, particularly in hospital and nursing home patients with serious medical problems.
“More than one in three patients with invasive C auris infection, for example an infection that affects the blood, heart or brain, die.
“C auris has caused outbreaks in healthcare facilities and can spread through contact with affected patients and contaminated surfaces or equipment.
“Good hand hygiene and cleaning in healthcare facilities is essential because C auris can live on surfaces for several weeks.”