As the world battles COVID-19, India is facing a surge in the cases of black fungus among the COVID-19 recovered and recovering patients. WHO recently announced the B.1.617 variant of the SARS-CoV-2 is responsible for the second wave of infections in India. This variant has also spread to many other countries including the UK and It also has the power to spread faster than the B.1.1.7 variant.
Scientists say that severe SARS- CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 treatment can weaken immunity. This makes the immune system vulnerable to other infections such as black fungus. That is why many patients who are recovering or recovered from COVID-19 are being infected with black fungus. Within the past few months, India has witnessed about 12,000 black fungus cases and more than 300 people have died and several states affected.
What Is Black Fungus?
Mucormycosis or black fungus is a rare and dangerous fungal infection caused by a group of fungi known as mucormycosis. This fungus can be found in the environment, particularly in soil and decaying organic matter which includes leaves, fruit, and vegetables. The black fungus can affect people with health issues or who use drugs. This is because they have weak immunity to fight infections.
The black fungus can enter the body through breathing, inhaling, or when exposed to wounds in the skin. Doctors say it first affects the nose and then the fungus spreads into the brain and sometimes it can be treated only by doing a major surgery by removing the eye part or part of the skull and jaw.
Types of Mucormycosis
There are five different types of mucormycosis which include the following
Rhinocerebral mucormycosis– An infection in the sinus and it can spread to the brain.
Pulmonary mucormycosis– It’s common among people with cancer and people who have done organ transplant/ stem cell transplant.
Gastrointestinal mucormycosis– It is common among young children and adults. Especially with premature and low birth weight infants less than one month of age.
Cutaneous mucormycosis- It occurs when the fungi enter the body through a cut in the skin.
b- It occurs when the infection spreads through the bloodstream and affects another part of the body.
Black Fungus Symptoms
The symptoms of black fungus depend on where it grows in the body.
Respiratory related symptoms include
- Runny nose
- Chest pain
- nasal congestion and pain
- shortness of breath
- Nausea and vomiting
- Swelling on one side of the face
Skin related symptoms include
- Blackened skin tissue
- Redness, swelling, and tenderness
Black Fungus Risks
Mucormycosis is not a contagious disease but people who fall under the following category have an increased risk of mucormycosis. This includes people with
- Weaker immune system
- Increased diabetics
- Skin injury
Black fungus infections may also cause eyelid loss and blurred vision. Some patients have also lost their eyesight completely. If the black fungus infects the eye, the eyes of the patients had to be removed by surgery because the infection can spread to the brain through the eye and can lead to death
Prevention and Treatment
The first and most effective way to prevent black fungus is by wearing a mask. Diabetic patients and immune-compromised people should control sugar and blood glucose levels. Maintain your sugar level and check your sugar level frequently. People who have been prescribed steroids should be monitored constantly. The black fungus can be prevented with antifungal intravenous injection and as of now, it is the only drug prescribed. The dosage depends on the health condition of the patient.
The black fungus can also affect non-COVID people, doctors say if it is left untreated it leads to life-threatening problems. If you have any of the signs above mentioned, check with your doctor immediately.