Though the cases of Black Fugus have started to spike in the country, the infection is non-contagious and only the population with comorbidity who are also infected with COVID-19 are at risk.
- Mucormycosis or Black Fungus is the new problem that has piled up for India along with the second wave of COVID.
- India has recorded nearly 9,000 Black Fungus cases so far and over 200 deaths.
- Five states including Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, and the UT of Chandigarh have declared Black Fungus as an epidemic.
- People suffering from “Diabetes Mellitus” are more vulnerable to this infection and now COVID-19 patients as the immunity drop to zero because of consumption of steroids.
While India is fighting with the ravaging second wave of COVID-19, a new disease has induced several questions among the public, popularly known as Black Fungus and “Mucormycosis” in medical terminology. The disease is considered to be deadly and rare and the majority of the cases are seen among the infected coronavirus patients or in those who have recently recovered from COVID. This rare fungus has a 50 percent mortality rate and during the first week of May, India started reporting several cases. The post-COVID complexity is a second wave exclusive.
With the rising cases of black fungus, India now has declared it as an epidemic in several states including Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, and the UT of Chandigarh. This has escalated as a new tension among the medical sector as nearly 9,000 cases and at least 219 deaths are being reported so far. Maharashtra has recorded the highest number of black fungus cases (1500), followed by Gujrat (1163) and Madhya Pradesh (575) as these states have accounted for 58.66 percent of the overall cases within the country.
What is Mucormycosis?
This disease is triggered by the fungal bacteria that are found in organic matter and soil. This is inhaled by humans through the air and the mold penetrates the body and captures the area around eye sockets, the nose that can lead to the blackening of the nose and at times can move rapidly to the brain. Individuals with good immunity can fight off the fungus, but for those with zero immunity, this fungus can spread quickly without leaving any time to grasp the situation.
The fungus usually attacks the lungs and sinuses after a person takes in the fungal spores from the air. And at times, if a person has an injury or a cut on the skin, then it can enter from there as well. The symptoms of this disease completely depend upon from where the fungus has entered and where it is growing, but common symptoms observed are black lesions in the mouth, facial swelling, skin ulcers, and fever. There are many cases where the infection travels through the blood vessels and directly enters the brain that can cause loss of eyesight or can lead to creating a deep hole in the face.
Black fungus is not new
The first thing about the Black Fungus everyone should know is “IT IS NOT NEW” and it’s been in existence even before COVID-19 hit the globe. The fungus is commonly found in India and China where the majority of the patients are suffering from “Diabetes Mellitus”. This is because India and China have the record of highest number of diabetes patients in 2019 with 77 million and 116 million respectively. Moreover, the black fungus is also reported among the patients undergoing corticosteroid therapy or organ transplants.
This means that people with comorbidities such as heavy diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Mellitus cancers, immunosuppressive therapy are at high risk of coming under the impact of this disease and now it has started to attack the COVID-19 patients. The bottom line here is that black fungus attacks those bodies that have low to no immunization left.
Since COVID patients are given drugs for the treatment, their immune response gets stifled. And that is why they are now at risk of diseases such as mucormycosis. The patients who are on oxygen support usually have a humidifier in the war and that raises the exposure to moisture that can make them vulnerable to catch the fungal infection. The patients are given antibiotics to fight the infection that raises their sugar levels in the body and the black fungus gets the window to enter the body.
Black Fungus is not Contagious and is Treatable
Just like COVID-19, people are now becoming fearful of black fungus. But it is not at all contagious as it is just an infection that happens with the use of steroids spiking the sugar levels in the body. And yes, it is treatable with Liposomal Amphotericin B, and one patient needs around 20 vials of this injection that currently ranges between Rs 5,000 to Rs 6,000.
If you are not comorbid, no reason to be scared
The first thing that everyone should keep in mind that if the patient is “Diabetes Mellitus” then the black fungus is a risk and now that the COVID-19 wave has hit the country, the patients infected with it and having any underlined conditions are at risk of suffering from Mucormycosis. The ICMR has also released a do’s and don’ts guideline for Mucormycosis. To protect the patients from catching this infection, here’s what can be done according to the doctors:
- Protect yourself from the environment, wear an N95 mask, avoid contact with water damaged sources and wear gloves while handling soil, manure, or moss.
- Consume prescribed antifungal medication if you have undergone any transplant to avoid the risk of catching the mold or fungus infection.
The cases of black fungus came into existence when the country surpassed the peak of COVID-19 cases. And in this scenario, instead of being terrified about a certain piece of information, one must try to be aware of it and ensure that proper measures are being taken to avoid any risks in the future.