JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) - A federal agency says there are now 12 confirmed cases of a rare, deadly fungus in Joplin after a tornado hit the southwest Missouri city.
A team of investigators from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has been investigating reports of the mucormycosis (MYOO-kohr-MY-koh-sis) fungus.
CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund says she doesn't have specific information on the cases.
At least three tornado survivors who were hospitalized with the infection have died, but authorities said it was unclear what role the fungus played in their deaths because they suffered from other serious ailments.
The CDC has been trying to determine if there are risk factors associated with the people who have contracted the rare fungus.
Scientists say the unusually aggressive infection occurs when dirt or vegetation becomes embedded under the skin.