Black Fungus or Mucormycosis is one of the leading cause of concern along with the Coronavirus. According to the latest news from Hindustan Times, 7,250 people in India are infected by Black Fungus and around 219 people. It is a fungal infection. The central government has recently asked the states to declare it an Epidemic; yes, this fungal infection is this deadly!
What is Black Fungus?
Mucormycosis is a serious and invasive fungal infection that is caused by the groups of molds- micromycetes. It is found in the environment around us, in damp soil and decaying leaves, sewage, wood etc.
Black Fungus can affect several organs of the body. However, in the current scenario amidst COVID-19, this infection is majorly impacting the ear, nose and mouth. Though the diseases are not contagious, it could be life-threatening. It can lead to blindness and followed by death if not cured on time. The fungus majorly infects people who have been recovering from COVID or does not have a strong immune system. It gradually leads to discolouration over the nose, double or blurs the vision. It is accompanied by pain in the chest, difficulty in breathing, along coughing blood.
List of States with Highest Number of Mucormycosis Cases
According to Hindustan Times, the central state has asked other states to declare the infection as an epidemic. Further, the news states following states in India have the highest number of Black Fungus cases.
- Maharashtra: There are 1,500 cases of this infection and 90 deaths because of the infection.
- Gujarat: Around 1,163 cases and 61 death because of Mucormycosis.
- Madhya Pradesh: 575 cases and 31 deaths due to infection.
- Haryana: 268 cases and 8 deaths.
- Delhi: 203 cases and 1 death.
- Uttar Pradesh: 169 cases and 8 deaths.
- Bihar: Around 103 cases and 2 deaths.
- Chandigarh: 1001 casesand 1 death.
- Karnataka: 97 cases
- Telangana: Around 90 cases and 10 deaths
Symptoms of Mucormycosis/Black Fungus Infection
Some of the common symptoms are:
- Blockage in nasal or congestion/black nasal discharge.
- Pain in the cheekbones, swelling in the eyes or parts of the face.
- Discoloration over nose.
- Acute headaches, redness, swelling and pain in the forehead.
- Blurry vision or partial blindness.
- Pulmonary Infection, which affects the lungs.
- Cough/fever and chest pain.
- Altered mental state.
- Bloody vomits
Progression of Black Fungus Disease
Fungal spores float in the environment and infect people. The fungus can also enter the body through cuts, burns or any other skin problem. It further travels through the sinus and affects the nose, eyes, lungs and eventually brain.
If the fungus enters through burns or cuts, it could lead to localised infection; however, if it goes through the sinus or enters the bloodstream, it can lead to a fatal situation. According to some doctors, this fungal infection could be triggered by the unsupervised and/ or excessive steroids that are given during the treatment of the COVID. These steroids suppress the immune system and may increase the risk of Black Fungus in human. In addition to this, the infection could occur by ‘’mold-tainted oxygen pipes and humidifiers.
According to some doctors, this infection can occur when medicines for COVID treatment were administered without bringing the sugar levels to control. And it could also be due to unhygienic and unclean post-COVID conditions of patients.
People Who Are More at Risk to Black Fungus
The infection is dominant in people who have recovered or recovering from COVID. People who have compromised immune system that may, among other things, include transplant patients and people on long term steroid medication are more at the risk of Black Fungus infection. COVID patients with diabetes are at higher risk of the disease as the use of steroids during the treatment can increase the sugar level.
According to ICMR, controlling sugar level is the best preventive measure for this infection. However, if it is not treated timely, it may cause lethal bloodstream infection.
Also, people with kidney, cancer, liver diseases, and organ transplants should monitor glucose level regularly to avert the infection.
Treatment for Mucormycosis or Black Fungus
- Anti-fungal solid drugs such as Amphotericin B are administered over a long duration.
- If the infection is left undetected for long, then all tissues that show infection, such as eyes, nose, jaws etc., are removed surgically before starting anti-fungal medication.
Measures to Prevent Black Fungus
- Maintain hygienic conditions as much as possible.
- Do not share your oxygen equipment without proper sterilisation.
- Do not use ordinary tap water in your oxygen equipment.
- If you have or suspect a COVID infection, do not start a steroid regimen without a doctor’s prescription and supervision.
- Wear a mask if you are going to dusty areas.
- If you witness any of the above-listed symptoms, immediately contact your doctor.
COVID-19 pandemic has been a trying time for all of us. The disease, as difficult and as deadly as it is, brought in its wake yet another debilitating disease called Mucormycosis. Black Fungus cases have risen at an alarmingly rapid pace. It is a disfiguring and often deadly disease being attributed to unrestricted and unsupervised use of steroids during the management of COVID infection. The disease lurks all around us in the environment and infects those of us with compromised immune systems and/or uncontrolled diabetes. The best solution for the disease is prevention through doctor-supervised management of COVID and seeking urgent medical help if you or your loved ones show any of the symptoms curated above. Lastly, we encourage you to get vaccinated if and when you get a chance. So, do enrol on COWIN portal.
It is a deadly fungal infection that affects the lungs, eyes, nose.
It either starts through localised infection in cuts and bruises on the skin or through your nose.
Yes, headache is one of the prime symptoms.
No, Black Fungus is not endemic to India. However, COVID related onset of Black Fungus diseases has so far mainly been reported in India, with very few cases outside India.
NO, it is not contagious.