Mucormycosis or Black Fungus: Things You Should Know

The surge in mucormycosis cases remains a fearful memory of the pandemic. Also known as the Black Fungus, this disease was rampant among coronavirus survivors who had barely recovered. But what is mucormycosis? This blog will answer all your questions related to this disease.

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    What is Mucormycosis?

    Mucormycosis is a very rare fungal infection that can cause serious damage to those with health disorders. It usually affects people who have compromised immunity because of serious health issues or ongoing treatments that reduce their body's resistance to germs and illness.

    If untreated or ignored, it can be fatal or cause you serious trouble. The fungus can spread across your body once it's developed in one body part, often leading to infections, paralysis or in worst-case scenarios, death.

    What is the Cause of Mucormycosis?

    Earlier called zygomycosis, it is caused by mucormycetes, a group of fungi. This mucor mould is usually found in plants, soil, manure etc. and usually affects a person's sinuses, lungs and brain.

    To most people, these fungi are harmless and are even present in a healthy person's mucous. These fungi are always present in the environment, usually in soil or in decaying organic matter like compost, dung or leaves.

    Mucormycetes can be inhaled through sinuses and lungs or enter the body through an open wound or cut. Mucormycosis is non-contagious and can’t spread from one person to another.

    What are the Symptoms of Mucormycosis?

    The symptoms of Black Fungus will change depending on the body part that has been infected. These have been briefly categorised below:

    Symptoms of Sinus and Brain or Rhinocerebral Mucormycosis

    • Headache
    • Fever
    • Congestion in sinuses or nasal passage
    • Facial swelling on one side
    • Stuffy or Bleeding nose
    • Drooping of eyelids or swelling in the eye
    • Black lesions on the nasal bridge or inside the upper part of the mouth

    Symptoms of Lung or Pulmonary Mucormycosis

    • Pain in chest
    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath

    Symptoms of Skin or Cutaneous Mucormycosis

    • Looks like blisters or ulcers on the skin
    • Swelling around the wound
    • Excessive redness on the skin
    • Pain or warmth in the affected area
    • Infected area may turn black

    Symptoms of Gastrointestinal Mucormycosis

    • Pain in abdomen
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Bleeding in the gastrointestinal region

    In many cases such as the recent COVID-19 recovered patients, disseminated mucormycosis was observed. This type of mucormycosis usually occurs when a person is already sick because of another condition. In such cases, it is hard to trace the symptoms caused by the fungi.

    How is Mucormycosis Diagnosed?

    Symptoms of black fungus are often not visible at first. It is usually diagnosed once you visit your doctor for some sinus, skin or lung infection. If you suspect an infection, immediately consult your doctor.

    Diagnosis of Mucormycosis is done by inspecting a tissue sample. In case of a sinus infection, your phlegm or nasal discharge may be used. For skin mucormycosis, your wound or the infected area will be inspected.

    Imaging tests like MRI or CT scans may be required to check if the fungus has spread to your brain or another organ.

    What is the Treatment for Mucormycosis?

    Treatments for mucormycosis include prescribed antifungal medicines that stop the growth of the fungus and help destroy it. The infection is brought to control through these pills or IV (in case of severe situations).

    In case the fungus has spread, surgery may be required to remove the infected or dead tissues from parts around your nose or eyes. This was a common course of action in several black fungus patients in India, where often an eye had to be removed to save their lives.

    Because of its severity, it is covered by several health insurance plans in India. Make sure to protect yourself and your loved ones under a comprehensive health insurance plan so that you don’t have to compromise with the treatment.

    Mucormycosis in COVID Patients

    People with diabetes, kidney issues and other health complications are at the greatest risk of black fungus.

    Several fungal infections including mucormycosis were reported in severely affected COVID-19 patients very soon after the second wave. India saw large numbers of such cases due to its high population of diabetics who had recently recovered from the coronavirus.

    According to the WHO report, the black fungus was observed in those with pre-existing diseases or people who were on corticosteroids or other immunomodulating drugs.

    In a Nutshell,

    With an overall mortality rate of 50%, mucormycosis is a truly horrifying and serious condition if it takes a grip on a person with comorbidities. Keeping this in mind, make sure to take care of your health and take preventative measures to safeguard against this infection, including providing yourself with the safety of a health insurance plan which covers such risks.

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