Black Fungus

Commonly referred to as Black Fungus, Mucormycosis is an ailment caused by a class of moulds known as mucormycetes. These moulds are naturally found occurring in the environment.

Black fungus typically affects the lungs, sinuses, brain, and skin and comes with a high fatality rate. The lungs or sinuses are affected after the inhalation of fungal particles present in the air.

The fungal infection generally affects individuals who are on medications or have underling conditions like diabetes, etc. that decreases the body’s capacity to fight pathogens found in everyday surroundings. Maintaining personal hygiene, wearing masks, and using sanitizers can help keep the disease at bay.

Cases of black fungus have seen a sharp increase in India among individuals who have either recovered or are suffering from covid-19 infection. Affected people generally suffer from headache, fever, breathlessness, coughing, vomiting blood, and confusion, etc. Over 2000 cases of black fungus infection have been reported in Maharashtra till date.

Symptoms of black fungus

Some common symptoms of black fungus infection are listed below:

  • Bloody or dark discharge from nose
  • Aching in one side of the face
  • Congestion or blockage of nose
  • Swelling or numbness
  • Cheek bone pain
  • Teeth become loose
  • Lesions on skin
  • Dark discoloration of nasal bridge
  • Vision problems
  • Pain in chest
  • Fever
  • Development of blood clots

Covid 19 and black fungus

People develop mucormycosis after exposure to fungal spores present in the air. It can also be caused by entry of the fungus through varied skin injuries like cuts, burn, scrapes, wounds, etc.

As per advisory of ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research), the presence of below listed illnesses in covid 19 patients increases their risk to developing black fungus as a complication:

  • Compromised immune system due to excess use of steroids
  • Uncontrollable diabetes
  • Recent organ transplant
  • Co-morbidities like cancer, etc
  • Prolonged hospitalization

A large percent of the population in India suffers from diabetes. It is therefore necessary for such patients to ensure efficient management of the disease to prevent the complication.

Steroids are often used to reduce pulmonary inflammation in Covid 19 patients. Steroids can be vital to saving the life of such patients. However, these drugs can also increase their risk to developing black fungus. Steroids help decrease lung inflammation, but they also increase blood glucose levels and suppress the immune system which is not good.

Treatment of black fungus

Some of the treatment options for black fungus infection in Covid 19 patients are mentioned below:

  • Use of anti-fungal medicines for a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks
  • Surgical removal of all dead or necrotic matter
  • The drug Amphotericin B is quite effective. Due to this, demand for this drug has suddenly increased in some states
  • Stop the use of Immuno-modulating drugs
  • Diabetes and diabetic ketoacidosis should be kept under control. If steroids are being used to treat Covid, then their use should be reduced and then discontinued quickly.

Things to do

Do the following when suffering from covid and black fungus:

  • Moderate use of steroids
  • Effective management of hyperglycemia
  • During oxygen therapy ensure that sterile and clean water is used in humidifiers
  • After discharge, regular check blood sugar levels
  • Judicious use of anti-fungal and/or antibiotics
  • Keep a lookout for symptoms
  • Ensure aggressive diagnostic testing for timely detection of fungal infection
  • Blocked noses/congestion/sinusitis should not be misinterpreted as bacterial ailment. Check and verify whether or not they are caused by fungal spores, especially if patient is diabetic or has weakened immune system

After recovering from Covid and black fungus, the infection can occur again after some weeks or even months. Hence, closely monitor the onset of any adverse signs or symptoms.

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