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What Is Mucormycosis Or ‘Black Fungus’ & How Does It Effect COVID-19 Patients?

Tanya SharmaTanya Sharma  |  May 10, 2021
What Is Mucormycosis Or ‘Black Fungus’ & How Does It Effect COVID-19 Patients?

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We are well over a year into the pandemic, and yet, we are still discovering new things about the coronavirus. From COVID nails to COVID toes, new symptoms and side effects are coming to the fore every other day, so it’s best to keep ourselves safe till we ride out this second wave. Recently, medical experts in India have sounded the alarm for yet another dangerous COVID-19 complication—called mucormycosis or ‘black fungus’. In fact, the Union Health Ministry recently shared an advisory for screening, diagnosis and management of the disease. 

What exactly is it and when should you be worried? Scroll ahead to know more.

What Is Mucormycosis?

According to medical experts, Mucormycosis, which is commonly known as black fungus, is a rare but serious fungal infection. It is caused by mucormycete, a type of fungus which is abundant in the environment. It mainly affects people who are fighting an illness or taking medication that lowers their immunity.

Also Read: Oxygen Cylinders vs. Oxygen Concentrators: Here Is Everything You Need To Know

Who Is Susceptible To It?

People with the following predispositions are prone to this complication:

– Those with uncontrolled diabetes mellitus

– Those who are dealing with immunosuppression by steroids

– Those who have had a prolonged ICU stay

– Those with co-morbidities like post-transplant/malignancy

– Those who are taking voriconazole therapy (anti-fungal treatment)

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What Symptoms Should You Watch Out For?

According to the advisory, people should watch out for the following symptoms:

– Pain and redness around eyes and/or nose

– Fever

– Headache

– Coughing

– Shortness of breath

– Bloody vomits

– Altered mental status

Warning Signs You Should Pay Attention To

The advisory states that a person might have a suspected case of mucormycetes when they display these warning signs:

-Sinusitis—nasal blockade or congestion, nasal discharge (blackish/bloody)

– Local pain on the cheekbone, one-sided facial pain, numbness or swelling

-Blackish discolouration over the bridge of nose/palate

-Loosening of teeth, jaw involvement

-Blurred or double vision with pain

-Thrombosis (blood clots), necrosis (premature tissue death), skin lesion

-Chest pain, pleural effusion (fluid in lungs), worsening of respiratory symptoms

How Is It Diagnosed?

Diagnosis of mucormycosis depends on the location of the suspected infection. Usually, a sample of fluid from your respiratory system may be collected for testing. Other methods include a tissue biopsy or a CT scan of your lungs, sinuses etc.

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How Is It Treated?

Because it is a fungal infection, the primary treatment is with anti-fungal medication. However, doctors say that it is extremely important to control diabetes, reduce steroid use, and discontinue immunomodulating drugs. Since this complication leads to dehydration, the treatment includes infusion of normal saline (IV) before infusion of amphotericin B and antifungal therapy, for at least 4-6 weeks.

How Can You Prevent It?

Before you panic, it is important to keep in mind that this is a rare disease. Here’s what the advisory suggests you do if you want to avoid it:

– Use masks if you are visiting dusty construction sites

– Wear shoes, long trousers, long sleeve shirts and gloves while handling soil (gardening), moss or manure

– Maintain personal hygiene, including taking a thorough scrub bath

So stay informed, keep track of all your symptoms, and don’t panic!

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