• Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

Black Fungus and Covid-19

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Dr. Tapashi Gupta

People experience fungi most often in their kitchens, when fruits rot or the bread turns moldy. Fungi decompose organic litter and recycle the nutrients locked up in the leaves and wood.You may have seen them as the black growth on old fruits and bread. These are fungi of Mucoralean family fungi which are generally the first colonisers of dead or decaying plant material.

when the immune system has been breached by another illness, fungi can take advantage and invade human tissues. These are called opportunistic infections. Fungi rarely cause life-threatening diseases. A few fungi, like the Candida yeast, can sometimes kick off a serious infection.

The Mucoralean fungi are even less problematic. They include the genuses of Mucor and Rhizopus. These are ubiquitous molds occurring in the soil, compost, animal dung, rotting wood and plant material.

Mucormycosis or Black Fungus is a rare but dangerous infection caused by moulds. Mucormycosis is an invasive infection caused by a class of molds called Mucormycetes. These fungi are ubiquitous, naturally occurring in our environment, most commonly in soil. Humans get the infection by inhaling the fungal spores floating around in the air and in dust. Like most fungi, Mucor produces millions of microscopic spherical, dark-hued structures called spores, which are dispersed in air. When the spores land on moist surfaces, like soil or plant material, they begin to germinate and produce thread like structures called mycelia. The mycelia branch out and feed on sugars in their surroundings and grow. In tropical areas like in India, spore counts are generally higher during the summer than during the monsoons.

It has become a post covid severe symptoms which mainly affected the diabetic patients. Patients with diabetes, cancer and kidney disorders need to know about black fungus. Patients with high steroids user are more susceptible to this disease. As steroids reduces the immunity of the body. India is seeing a rise in cases of mucormycosis, a rare but dangerous fungal infection. Which called the “black fungus,” and it can be deadly. It’s also adding to India’s growing COVID-19 woes at the moment.

It is a rare kind of fungal infection affecting 1 in 10,00,000 people, but with an overall mortality rate of 50 per cent. The fungus invades the sinus and makes its way into the intraorbital and intracranial regions. If its progression is not checked early, 50-80% of patients could die. The disease is often characterised by hyphae growing in and around blood vessels and can be potentially life-threatening in diabetic or severely immunocompromised individuals.Hospitals across India have been reporting several cases of Mucormycosis, a rare fungal infection, affecting patients who have recently recovered from COVID-19.

When a patient whose immune system has been compromised inhales Mucor spores, they may develop mucormycosis. This is a rare, non-contagious disease – but it can be debilitating or fatal if not treated quickly. The frequency of mucormycosis infections has increased in the last decade, principally because of the greater number of organ transplants. People who have received transplanted organs depend on immunosuppressant drugs to keep their bodies from rejecting the new organs, but in this state they are also predisposed to infection.

People suffering from COVID-19, HIV/AIDS and other viral diseases, congenital bone marrow disease, severe burns, cancers and untreated or irregularly treated diabetes have reduced immunity and are prone to developing mucormycosis. COVID-19 patients who have received steroids are particularly at risk because steroids suppress the immune system. This is why steroids should not be used unless absolutely necessary.

Dr Sweta Budyal, senior consultant endocrinologist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund explains that mucormycosis frequently infects the sinuses, brain, or lungs. “While infection of the oral cavity or brain are the most common forms of mucormycosis, the fungus can also infect other areas of the body such as the gastrointestinal tract, skin, and other organ systems,”. It is a systematic disease it can affect various organ system from gastrointestinal to respiratory system. It mainly affected uncontrolled diabetic patients, cancer patients with chemotherapy are also more susceptible.Use of Industrial oxygen during covid treatment may be a cause of the disease.

Anti-fungal drug Ampho B, which is commonly used for the treatment of the infection.

Several states like Maharashtra, Telengana, Rajasthan declared Black Fungus as epidemic.

Amid the rising cases of Black Fungus infection in several states of India, four cases of White Fungus infection have been reported from Patna in Bihar. It is to be noted that White Fungus is considered more dangerous than Black Fungus. One of the infected patients is a famous doctor from Patna.

White Fungus infection is more dangerous than black fungus infection because it affects lungs as well as other parts of the body incuding nails, skin, stomach, kidney, brain, private parts and mouth.

Doctors said that white fungus also infect the lungs and an infection similar to COVID-19 is detected when HRCT is performed on the infected patient.

Dr. Tapashi Gupta

Associate professor (Retd), Department of Zoology (HOD), Lumding College, Assam

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