Black Fungus: What Do You Need to Know About It?

Black Fungus or Mucormycosis is an infection that is caused by a class of fungus called Mucorales.

This disease can cause severe damage to the lungs, sinuses, and brain if it goes untreated. The symptoms vary depending on what part of the body it affects, but they typically include fever and skin lesions.

In this blog, we will talk about mucormycosis or black fungus, so you know how to protect yourself from getting it!

What is Mucormycosis?

Mucormycosis is a rare fungal infection. It is caused by a group of molds classified as mucormycetes. It may affect people’s skin, respiratory system, or digestive tract.

This fungal infection has been observed in India and China, often among patients with diabetes, cancer, or other conditions that compromise their immune system, like HIV AIDS.

Now, COVID-19 survivors, many of whom have other health conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, and cancer, are at risk for this fungal infection. In addition, patients who develop a severe mucormycosis case have a weakened immune system in particular.

Symptoms of Black Fungus or Mucormycosis

Black Fungus can affect any part of the body and causes symptoms depending on what it’s attacking. The most common symptom is skin lesions in 50-60% of patients with mucormycosis who have been diagnosed using biopsy samples.

These are usually red patches or blisters on the skin, which may be painful to the touch, but they do not always appear immediately after exposure to fungi like this. They also tend to get larger over time, often accompanied by fever (approximately 80% of patients). Other possible signs include gastrointestinal distress such as nausea and vomiting, lung problems like shortness of breath, and so on.

How does Black Fungus enter the body?

Mucormycosis is caused when the type of fungus that typically lives on dead vegetation or in the soil enters a body through an opening such as a cut, wound, burn, eye injury, or surgery. These fungi can enter the skin without causing any symptoms for days before it starts to cause problems, which means people who have been infected may not know what happened until they start experiencing symptoms.

The most common way these infections get into your body is by inhaling dust and other particles from outside environments where this kind of fungi live (indoor plants are another source). This doesn’t mean you should stop going outdoors – but those with compromised immune systems like HIV/AIDS patients should be more careful about their exposures while gardening or doing outdoor activities.

“However, the underlying cause for this disease in India is suspected to be the unhygienic method of delivering oxygen to patients (via industrial cylinders) and the rampant use of steroids for treating COVID-19 patients.”

Is Mucormycosis Contagious? How Serious is this disease?

Mucormycosis is not contagious and cannot be spread from person to person. The most common way these infections get into your body is by inhaling dust and other particles from dirty, dark, and moist environments where this kind of fungi lives – Which, in the case of India, is likely due to unhygienic Oxygen and overuse of steroids on COVID patients.

As far as the severity of this disease is concerned, it is treatable if detected early. However, as the disease progresses and its diagnosis is delayed, mucormycosis might invade the patient’s brain tissue, eyes, throat, jaw, lungs, etc. Depending upon the severity, the affected body parts must be surgically removed to save the patient’s life.

Black Fungus can be fatal if left untreated.

What to do if you suspect Black Fungus infection?

If the symptoms are present, a physician must be consulted. Antifungal medicines should not be used without consulting your healthcare provider first.

Watch out for symptoms like;

  • Fever
  • Pain/redness/swelling of eyes
  • Bloody spit/vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Altered behavior
  • Blurry/declining vision

Mucormycosis can often be diagnosed by examining the fluid collecting in sinuses and lungs with cytology or biopsy of tissue samples. Still, this disease has specific characteristics, so diagnosis is usually straightforward. However, cytology tests may go wrong because mucormycetes cells look like yeast cells under a microscope. So, some patients might have false-negative results even when they’re carrying Mucoraceius fungus within their body, which can’t always be seen on diagnostic testing.”

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Content Reviewed by – Asian Hospital Medical Editors