Doctors have seen their first cases of drug-resistant ringworm in the United States, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC said the first cases of “Tinea caused by Trichophyton indotineae” were found in New York City from December 2021 through March 2023.
“Tinea is a common, highly contagious, superficial infection of the skin, hair, or nails caused by dermatophyte molds,” the department wrote.
Tinea is also called ringworm, NBC News reported.
The antifungal-resistant version first emerged in South Asia through the spread of Trichophyton indotineae, a new dermatophyte species, and likely driven by the overuse or misuse of topical antifungals and corticosteroids, the CDC said.
The first case was that of a 47-year-old woman who had a bad case of ringworm first discovered when she had traveled in Bangladesh. She tried to treat a rash that covered most of her body with antifungal cream, NBC News reported. But it didn’t work.
Doctors found it was caused by Trichophyton indotineae.
Several other family members in Bangladesh also had similar rashes, CNN reported, and her husband and son are also being evaluated for similar infections.
Dr. Avrom Caplan then spoke to other doctors to see if anyone else had seen something similar and found a second case — that of a 28-year-old woman who had ringworm over most of her body in the summer of 2021. In that case, the woman did not travel outside of the U.S., NBC News reported.
The woman was given terbinafine initially, but it didn’t work, so she was given itraconazole, and the infection subsided, CNN reported.
In addition to the cases in South Asia, and now the U.S., there have been cases in Europe, CNN reported.
Despite its name, ringworm is not caused by a worm, according to the CDC. Instead, a fungus causes a circular pattern of itchy scaling. It can happen on the face, chest, scalp or groin at any age, but is most common in children.
The fungi can live on skin and surfaces, including clothing, towels and bedding.
Ringworm goes by several names, depending on where it is found on the body, for instance, ringworm on the feet is called “athlete’s foot.”