Two women in the US have been struck down with a new strain of a common fungal infection – with an expert warning that the world “is not yet prepared” for the “epidemic” that is to come.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), confirmed that the two women, aged 28 and 47, have suffered the first known cases in the United States of the drug-resistant ringworm also known as tinea.  Reports say that the unnamed patients suffered lesions on their neck, buttocks, thighs and abdomen.

Their family members also suffered symptoms. David Denning, Professor of Infectious Diseases in Global Health at the University of Manchester, revealed the infection is spreading across countries.

He said: “Skin fungal infections are transmitted from one person to another in schools, homes and with intimate contact. This new terbinafine-resistant fungus is a new species called Trichophyton indotineae and was first identified in India.

“The huge Indian diaspora has already seen this fungus spread to other countries including Canada and Germany, and now the USA.”

The 28-year-old woman first reported rashes on her body while pregnant in the summer of 2021 and sought medical attention in December after she had large, scaly rashes across her body, reported The Mirror

She was diagnosed by a dermatologist with tinea and prescribed antifungal treatment in January 2022 after her baby was born. However, it did not make a difference, according to medics.  She was then treated with a four-week course of the antifungal itraconazole which eventually cleared the rash.

The patient had not been abroad recently with officials believing the infection was spread locally in the US.  The second woman started to get huge rashes while travelling in Bangladesh, and despite applying creams upon her return to the US, it made no difference.

She ended up going to a medical centre, where she was given two four-week medication courses which helped improve the rash by 80%.

Mr Denning added: “For two decades, we have been treating these infections with oral terbinafine for three weeks, very successfully, until this new fungal species arrived.

“The most plausible explanation for its emergence is the frequent use in India of topical terbinafine (cream and ointment), which doesn’t completely cover the infected area or penetrate deeply into the skin, allowing escape of resistant variants.