Mucormycosis, which was previously called zygomycosis, is a kind of fungal infection caused by a group of fungi called mucormycetes. These fungi or molds are found abundantly in our environment. They live mostly in soil, damp walls, dead and decaying organic matter like rotten wood, compost piles, or even leaves.
People are affected by mucormycosis when they come into contact with these fungal spores that are present in the environment. Your lungs and sinus can get affected by mucormycosis if you come into close contact or breathe in the fungal spores. But mucormycosis does not affect everyone.
The black fungus infection can severely affect you if you suffer from health issues or consume medicines that may suppress your immunity.
When your immunity is low, your body becomes unable to fight against germs or other illnesses. Mucormycosis not only affects the lungs and sinus, but it can also develop on your skin. The fungus may enter your skin through some cut, burn, or skin injury.
What are the Causes of Black Fungus?
Mucormycosis is a rare disease, but it takes a serious turn when it affects human beings. It is caused when you are exposed to the mucormycetes molds. When you breathe in the affected spores, it is known as sinus pulmonary exposure.
An infection from the mold can lead to an infection in the following parts of the body:
- Central nervous system
You are at a higher risk of getting infected with mucormycosis or black fungus infection if you have reduced immunity, or suffer from the following:
- HIV or AIDS
- Untreated diabetes
- Neutropenia or low white blood cell count
- High levels of iron in your body; a condition known as hemochromatosis
- Metabolic acidosis or excess acid in your body
- Premature birth
A recent surgery also makes you vulnerable to any kind of infection, even from a black fungus infection.
Mucormycosis can also affect your skin if you have a cut or burn.
Symptoms of Mucormycosis
The symptoms of mucormycosis depend on the part of your body that has been affected by the deadly fungus. The symptoms generally include the following:
- Chest pain
- Swelling of the face
- Difficulty breathing
- Sinus congestion
- Belly pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bloody stool
- Black or bloody discharge from the nose
- Black lesions inside the nose or mouth
How Does Black Fungus Disease Spread?
Black fungus or mucormycosis does not spread from animals to humans, or from humans to humans. In other words, it is not a contagious disease. Black fungus infection is spreading because of the indiscriminate use of steroids and antibiotics that are administered in various serious illnesses. Another cause of the spread of mucormycosis or black fungus is the use of contaminated pipes and prongs in oxygen cylinders.
What is Mucormycosis or Black Fungus After Covid-19?
India is fighting covid 19 infection, however another life-threatening disease known as mucormycosis has put medical teams in distress. Doctors have observed that some patients who are suffering from covid 19, or have recently recovered, are diagnosed with a fungal infection called black fungus or mucormycosis. Most cases have been reported in Gujarat, Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru.
How are Covid and Mucormycosis Related?
Mucormycosis is an old disease and used to affect immunosuppressed people. Recently, covid patients or survivors are being targeted by this fungal infection. But not every covid positive patient is suffering from black fungus.
Some individuals are more susceptible to the disease, such as:
- People with high levels of blood sugar, which are either not treated, or are uncontrollable.
- Patients with comorbidities who are being given immunosuppressant steroid medicines to treat serious illnesses and covid-19.
- Those who are being treated in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for a long time.
- People who have a reduced immunity because of cancer treatment or transplant surgeries.
- People who are already consuming antifungal medicines to combat infections.
Treatment of Mucormycosis or Black Fungus
Mucormycosis, or black fungus infection, is a new threat to covid patients. It is life threatening, and the death rate is 50%. Therefore, proper and timely treatment is very important to avoid death or surgical removal of infected body parts. Mucormycosis infections have increased four to five times since the onset of the covid 19 pandemic, because covid patients are soft targets and immunosuppressed.
But you should not panic about mucormycosis or black fungus, because it is still not a major outbreak. But you need to be conscious and know when to consult your doctor. The treatment of mucormycosis involves:
- Controlling diabetes and diabetic ketoacidosis.
- Discontinuation of immunomodulating drugs.
- Proper use of steroids in the treatment of covid-19.
- No antifungal prophylaxis.
- Surgery to remove all necrotic materials.
- Installation of a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC line).
- Maintenance of hydration.
- Saline IV
- Amphotericin infusion
- Antifungal therapy for four to six weeks.
- Proper monitoring of patients both clinically and through radio imaging to check the progression of the disease.
Precautions of Mucormycosis After Covid-19
Simple preventive measures can go a long way in lowering your chances of contracting mucormycosis or black fungus infection after covid-19.
- Maintain personal hygiene, like properly washing after returning home from work or visiting friends and relatives.
- Use face masks and shields whenever visiting polluted areas such as construction sites.
- Wear covered clothes like full sleeve shirts, long pants, and covered shoes.
- Try to keep away from soil, moss, manure or avoid gardening activities.
- Don’t neglect warning signs and symptoms of mucormycosis like blocked nose or chest pain.
- Do not consider blocked nose as sinusitis, especially if you are a patient of covid-19 and have been on steroids.
- Do not use unclean water for oxygen cylinder and humidifiers.
Although mucormycosis has emerged as a new life threatening disease in India, you should not panic. Doctors are trying their best to protect the covid patients from contracting black fungus. You need to be cautious and alert. Visit KETTO.org for more information on covid and mucormycosis.