Over 200 patients in 20 NHS trusts and private hospitals have been affected.

A deadly Japanese fungus has spread through hospitals in the UK.

The Evening Standard reports that the outbreak of the potentially deadly fungus was blamed on “low nursing levels”.

31 patients were colonised with the ‘Japanese fungus’ Candida auris at King’s College hospital in London after it was  contracted from a patient admitted from the Royal Brompton hospital.

Over 200 patients in 20 NHS trusts and private hospitals have been affected.

The outbreak at King’s College hospital lasted a year, ending in April. The fungus entered the bloodstream in six cases, causing an infection.

Board papers for the hospital’s parent NHS trust in March stated: “While the trust is implementing infection prevention and control protocols, it was noted that the spread of the pathogen is affected by low nursing levels.”

Candida auris was first founded in the ear of a patient in Japan in 2009, spreading to the UK in 2013. Several hospitals have reported a contamination time of as little as four hours from initial exposure.

So far, no UK patient has died from it.

The fungus lives on the skin or inside the body and can cause infections if spread into surgical wound sor when urinary catheters or drips are inserted.

However, some patients can carry the fungus without getting unwell or showing any symptoms.

Dr Colin Brown, from Public Health England’s national infection service, said, “Our enhanced surveillance shows a low risk to patients in healthcare settings. Most cases detected have not shown symptoms or developed an infection as a result of the fungus.

“NHS hospitals that have experienced outbreaks of Candida auris have not found it to be the cause of death in any patients.”

Prevention of the fungus spreading includes maintaining good hygiene. Those in hospitals are encouraged to frequently clean their hands by washing and using alcohol gel.

Visitors may be asked to wear a gown, plastic aprons and gloves if a hospital patient is found to be infected.