Black fungus, medically known as mucormycosis, is a rare and dangerous fungal infection that is caused by exposure to microorganisms called mucormycetes present in the environment and soil. These microorganisms are susceptible to inhalation or contact with the skin. Doctors say that- This fungus is everywhere, in the soil and, to find, the air. It is found even in the nose and mucus of a healthy person. This fungus affects the sinuses, brain, and lungs and can be fatal in people with diabetes or people with very weak immunity, such as people with cancer or HIV/AIDS.
Mucormycosis has a mortality rate of up to 50 percent. Doctors say that this infection is increasing due to the use of steroids to save patients with serious ailments of Covid-19.
What are the Main Causes of Black Fungus?
Doctors across the country are of the view that the reason for its rapid spread among ordinary patients is the judicious use of steroids. Steroids, especially when taken in high doses or used for a long time, can cause black fungus (mucormycosis). According to Dr. Mahajan, “This is because steroids can also lower our immunity and have a tendency to raise blood sugar levels, which can also create a favorable environment for the spread of steroid infections in people who do not have diabetes.
“Dr. Randeep Guleria, Director of AIIMS, recently spoke about the disadvantages of taking steroids in the early stages of covid-19 in a press conference. Many people take high doses of steroids in the early stages which can cause the virus to multiply rapidly. People who have a short coronavirus outbreak can develop severe cases of viral pneumonia due to the virus spreading to the lungs.
Symptoms of Black Fungus
Symptoms of black fungus can vary from patient to patient. It depends on which part of your body this fungus is developing.
Following are the major symptoms of mucormycosis-
● Pain in the eyes
● Coughing up
● Weakening of eyesight
● Chest pain
● Shortness of breath
● Blood in stool
● Having a headache
● Swelling on any part of the face
● Black marks inside the mouth or on the nose
● Abdominal pain
● Redness, blisters, or swelling in some places on the body
Tests for Black Fungus
● To diagnose black fungus (mucormycosis), doctors conduct a physical examination of the body.
● Samples are taken from the nose and throat and tested.
● This infection can also be detected by doing a tissue biopsy from the infected site.
● X-ray, CT scan, and MRI are also done if needed so that it can be found out that the fungal infection has reached which part of the body.
How dangerous is the Black Fungus?
Dr. Sumit Ray, Critical Care Specialist in Delhi said that the mortality rate in people infected with black fungus is around 50 to 70%. According to Dr. Sumit, If the infection spreads beyond the limit, then it is impossible to save the patient. What makes this disease more dangerous is the rapid pace of its spread. It behaves like cancer in the body, but it takes at least a few months for cancer to produce a life-threatening effect whereas, in black fungus, the life-threatening effect can occur within a few days or a few hours.
Why is black fungus becoming so dangerous these days?
According to many doctors across the country, the reason for the rapid spread of black fungus among normal patients is irrational use of steroids, especially when it is taken in high doses or used for a long time. Therefore, steroids can cause black fungus (mucormycosis). According to Dr. Mahajan, “This is because steroids lower our immunity and also have a tendency to increase blood sugar”. Therefore, even in people who do not have diabetes, steroids can create a favorable environment for infection to spread in the body. “Dr. Randeep Guleria, Director, AIIMS also spoke about the harm associated with taking steroids in the early stages of covid-19 in a press conference”.
Who is at greater risk?
This fungal infection can happen to people of any age and gender. However, people with a weak immune system due to some serious disease or medicines are more prone to this fungal infection such as-
● HIV or AIDS
● Organ transplant
● Low white blood cell count
● Long term steroid use
● Use of drugs
● Nutritional deficiency
● Premature birth, etc.
How is the disease suddenly spreading so fast which was very rare till now?
According to Dr. Manish Munjal, Senior ENT Specialist, associated with Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, “It is a serious disease, but there is no need to be afraid of it because black fungus or mucormycosis is not a new disease. Rather, it is an old disease but in the last few days, this disease has taken a terrible form. This disease usually occurs due to the weakening of the immune system. Earlier, this disease’s occurrence was common in chemotherapy patients, people with uncontrolled diabetes, transplant patients, and elderly people but post-Covid-19, this disease is increasingly visible in patients with co-morbidities and taking more steroids.
Dr. Munjal explains, “This disease is not contagious and does not spread through touching but this fungus lives in the air. It is seen in the form of mildew on bread and on tree trunks in black color. This fungus goes through the nose and goes into the skin of the nose with the help of mucus. After this, it spreads very fast, spoiling everything in the body and goes to the brain which can even lead to the death of the person”. Therefore, the mortality rate in this is 50 percent.
Prevention Measures for Black Fungus
At present, after recovering from COVID, the consumption of steroids and other drugs is enabling bacteria or fungus to grow in the mouth and cause problems in the sinuses, lungs, and even the brain. In such a situation, brushing two to three times a day and taking good care of the cleanliness of the mouth helps a lot. Therefore, patients need to maintain oral hygiene after recovering from COVID-19 to protect themselves from the effects of the disease. According to doctors, the following are three major measures to prevent black fungus infection.
1. Brush 2 to 3 times a day-
Medicines given to corona patients increase the risk of bacteria and fungus in the mouth. According to experts, it is necessary to brush 2 to 3 times a day to avoid this.
2. Get into the habit of rinsing-
Make a habit of rinsing after getting corona disease to maintain oral hygiene to avoid black fungus.
3. Keep toothbrush and tongue cleaner bacteria-free-
People recovering from covid-19 should keep their toothbrush and tongue cleaner clean and bacteria-free to avoid black fungus. Clean both these things with an antiseptic mouthwash.
What to do after getting Black Fungus?
● According to AIIMS, after showing symptoms of black fungus/mucormycosis, immediately consult an ENT doctor, ophthalmologist, or the doctor treating the patient.
● Get regular treatment and keep following it up. Keep diabetes under control and keep checking it frequently. The sugar level should not be high during this time.
● Do not self-administer steroids or antibiotics or antifungal drugs. In any case, use them only after consulting a doctor.
Treatment for Black Fungus
As soon as the black fungus is detected, its treatment should be started as soon as possible so that the infection in the body can be eliminated or controlled immediately. In some severe cases, tissue is surgically removed from the infected areas so that it does not spread to other areas.
Nasal endoscopy test can save lives and eyesight-
Nasal endoscopy is a procedure in which the bones inside the nose, the shape, and the space of the sinus can be seen by binoculars. This method is carried out with the help of binoculars and TV after the patient is lying down, after numbing their nose with medicine. In this, both the doctor and the patient can see the things inside the nose. In this procedure, if the fungus is seen inside the nose, then a piece of it is taken and sent for examination.