Black Fungus is not contagious, its causes and prevention

DY365
DY365
Published: May 18,2021 11:04 PM
DY365

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The country is struggling with the coronavirus crisis that in the meantime another danger of Mucormycosis infection i.e. Black Fungus has started looming on people.

May 18, 2021: The country is struggling with the coronavirus crisis that in the meantime another danger of Mucormycosis infection i.e. Black Fungus has started looming on people. This disease is seen in patients who are suffering from diabetes and COVID-19.



Diabetics suffering from COVID-19 who are being given steroids have a high chance of being affected by mucormycosis or "black fungus", All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Director Randeep Guleria said on Saturday, as hospitals report a rise in the rare but potentially fatal infection.



"Mucormycosis spores are found in soil, air and even in food. But they are of low virulence and usually do not causes infection. There were very few cases of this infection before Covid. Now a large number of cases are being reported due to Covid," he said at a news briefing.



Flagging "a misuse of steroids" as a major cause behind the cases, Dr Guleria urged hospitals to follow protocols of infection control practices since secondary infections - fungal and bacterial - can be increasingly seen in COVID-19 cases, causing more deaths.



"Misuse of steroids is a major cause behind this infection. Chances of fungal infection increase in the patients who are diabetic, Covid positive and those who are taking steroids. To prevent it, we should stop the misuse of steroids," Dr Guleria said.



"As COVID-19 cases are increasing, it's of paramount importance that we follow protocols of infection control practices at hospitals. It is been seen that secondary infections - fungal and bacterial - are causing more mortality," the AIIMS director said.



"Mucormycosis can affect the face, infecting nose, the orbit of the eye, or brain, which can cause even vision loss. It can also spread to the lungs," he said.



However, when the immune system has been breached by another illness, fungi that are otherwise harmless take advantage and invade human tissues. These are called opportunistic infections. Even so, unlike their pathogenic bacterial counterparts, fungi rarely cause life-threatening diseases



When a patient whose immune system has been compromised inhales this fungi, they may develop mucormycosis. This is a rare, non-contagious disease – but it can be debilitating or fatal if not treated quickly.



The state-run Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has said that doctors treating COVID-19 patients, diabetics and those with compromised immune systems should watch for early symptoms including sinus pain or nasal blockage on one side of the face, one-sided headache, swelling or numbness, toothache and loosening of teeth to guard against black fungus infections.



The disease, which can lead to blackening or discolouration over the nose, blurred or double vision, chest pain, breathing difficulties and coughing blood, is strongly linked to diabetes. And diabetes can in turn be exacerbated by steroids such as dexamethasone, used to treat severe COVID-19.