India is facing second wave of Covid-19 infections and it has done extreme damage than the first wave by bringing more unusual deaths and economy crisis in almost every country. Apart from oxygen, bed and medicine shortages, we are now facing a new challenge or we can say a life threatening infection called Mucormycosis (black fungus infection). Mucormycosis is seen in patients who have recovered or recovering from Covid-19. It happens in people having low body immunity. In order to save patients life, it’s important to have quick diagnosis followed by immediate treatment. Not treating it on time, can cause life threatening conditions. So, awareness regarding mucormycosis is very much essential.
What exactly is Mucormycosis or a Black Fungus?
Mucormycosis, commonly known as Black Fungus or a deadly fungus is a serious fungal infection caused by a group of molds referred as mucormycetes. The fungus is called Mucor. It’s found everywhere in nature like water, soil, plants, trees, manure, etc. Many of us are immune to it but most people who are highly diabetic or having less immunity, cancer or transplant patients, HIV or AIDS patients can be at more risks.
During Covid-19 infection, the lungs get inflamed due to the Corona virus. To reduce the inflammation, Doctors prefer to give steroids to suppress the inflammation. This causes impaired immunity in some patients and those with very low immunity or high sugar develops Mucormycosis. Even those patients that have stayed a long time in ICU, used mechanical ventilation or used oxygen for a prolonged time are at more risks, as there can be more chances of getting infected with this fungus. It generally affects those who are suffering from any health conditions or taking medicines that suppress the body’s immune system. The fungus often grows in the kitchen as well, when fruits get rotten or the breads stale. So the kitchen should also be well aerated.
How this Black Fungus infection spreads?
Blood vessels are infected due to the spread of the infection causing death and decay of the tissues. One can notice its effects while the tissues turn black. This causes loss of functions. The fungus inhaled from the air can affect the oral cavity, Eye and eye socket, palate and teeth, and in severe infections could involve the lungs and brain.
Signs & Symptoms of Mucormycosis
The symptoms of Black Fungus vary from person to person. It depends on the area where the fungus is growing.
Nose, Eyes and Brain area:
- Congestion in the nose
- Blackish discharge from the nose
- Pain in the face, Headache
- Pain or swelling in the eyes
- Pain in the jaw, toothache
- Blurred vision
- Black lesions on the skin especially on the nose
- Blood in the sputum after coughing
- Vomiting blood
- Chest pain
- Respiratory symptoms that worsens with time
Treatment of Mucormycosis (Black Fungus):
As Mucormycosis is a serious infection, its treatment needs to be quick, or else it could be life-threatening. The immediate action reduces further tissue damage. If you are facing any of the symptoms, you can consult the Doctor. The investigations include CT scan and MRI apart from blood investigations to know the severity of the disease. The treatment of Mucormycosis includes medical as well as surgical intervention and it depends on the patient’s condition and severity of the infection.
A team of professional doctors involving, Eye doctors, ENT surgeons, Neurologists, and other medical specialists are required for the treatment. Along with the surgical treatments, antifungal medications such as amphotericin B, posaconazole, etc are also given for many days to bring infection under control. Steroid treatments in Covid-19 patients are stopped as it weakens the immunity of patients and fungus gets the chance to grow quickly in such cases.
Complications of Mucormycosis
Black fungus spreads very quickly throughout the body. If not treated on time, it can cause;
- Organ dysfunction
- Brain infections
- Gastrointestinal Haemorrhages
Can Mucormycosis be prevented?
Below are few measures which you can take to reduce the risk of getting infected with Mucormycosis.
- One should maintain the blood sugar levels and should keep it under control
- Avoid taking steroids without Doctor consultation
- Clean and sterile the humidifiers all the time
- Maintain proper hygiene
- Try and avoid contact with soil, dust or manure if you are facing Covid-19 or just recovered from it.
- If you feel any of the signs or symptoms of Mucormycosis, quickly consult an ENT specialist or Ophthalmologist.
Mucormycosis (Black Fungus) is a serious and deadly fungal disease. If you are still recovering from Covid-19 or recently recovered, maintain proper hygiene and closely monitor the signs and symptoms of it. Do not panic, if you suspect the infection but consult a specialist immediately. Prompt detection, diagnosis and immediate treatment can help prevent the growth of severe Mucormycosis (black fungus) infection.