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HomeScienceDeadly Black Fungus: Symptoms, Treatments and Vulnerability

Deadly Black Fungus: Symptoms, Treatments and Vulnerability

‘Black Fungus’ has been declared as an epidemic by several Indian states as the rare fatal disease appears in patients recuperating from COVID-19.

Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare of India, Dr. Harshvardhan wrote on his twitter handle:

What is ‘Black Fungus’ ?

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The mucormycosis or black fungus is a rare but fatal infection with 46-96% death rate. Initially, it affects the patient’s nose, but it could then spread into the brain, following which it could only be treated by major surgery.

Around 8,848 people have been infected by this rare disease in India and hundreds of them have lost their lives.

The disease spreads through fungal spores present in the soil and organic matter. It can also be inhaled by human beings from the air. The fungus enters the body and exhibits around the nasal tract and eye sockets, causing darkened nose. It should be prevented before entering the brain otherwise it could prove fatal. Healthy people can easily fight off this disease, however, it proves deadly in people with compromised immune systems.

It mainly affects the sinuses, the brain and the lungs and could prove fatal in severe diabetic patients or people with suppressed immunity. Its symptoms include headache, pain and redness around the eyes, fever, nasal or sinus congestion, bloody vomit, altered mental status and partial loss of vision.

Vulnerability:

The people who are most vulnerable to this disease are the ones suffering from uncontrolled diabetes, immunosuppression by steroids (or have compromised immune systems), comorbidities post transplant/malignancy, prolonged stay in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Cancer, Kidney disease or Heart disease. This infection is primarily spreading among patients who are recuperating from severe COVID-19 infection.

Director of the Indian Council of Medical Research, Dr. Balram Bhargava said about the black fungus that “If a person’s immunity is suppressed, it will infect them. If the spores have access to high sugar [levels], it will grow. We have seen this happen with Covid-19 patients with diabetes and uncontrolled sugar, or who are immunocompromised or have been given immune-suppressants.”

Preventions:

•While visiting a dusty construction site, people are advised to wear a mask.

•One should maintain personal hygiene.

•Wearing full sleeve clothes, long trousers, gloves and shoes while handling soil.

ICMR’s Guidelines:

DO’s:

•Monitor blood-sugar levels post-COVID-19 discharge.

•Steroids should be used judiciously- correct dose, timing and duration.

•Use antibiotics/antifungals judiciously.

•Regulate hyperglycemia.

•During oxygen therapy, clean and sterile water should be used in humidifiers.

DON’Ts:

•Do not ignore warning symptoms and signs.

•Do not hesitate to seek aggresive interventions.

•Not all cases of blocked nose should be considered as bacterial sinusitis, especially in context of immunosuppressors and/or COVID-19 patients on immunomodulators.

•One shouldn’t lose crucial time by hesitating to start treatment.

Treatment:

The treatment includes injections for 21 days, whose basic cost is around ₹9,000 per day. A report said that normal saline (IV) infusion is administered for four to six weeks before administering the antifungal Amphotericin B dose. It is given as per 3-4 mg per kg of body weight. Surgery may be required in severe cases and the eye or jaw bone has to be removed to prevent further spreading of the infection.

India has reported 8,848 black fungus cases. As on May 20, around 3% of the total Indian population i.e. 4,12,62,233 have been fully inoculated. On the other hand, a total of 14,66,24,652 people have been administered with the first dose of COVID vaccine till May 20.

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Stuti Tripathi
I have keen interest in scientific discoveries and technological advancements. I'm always curious to learn more and more about our galaxies and typically love to read about astronomy.

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