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Black fungus or Mucormycosis after COVID infection: All you need to know



Black fungus

Covid cases are increasing rapidly in the country. With infection increases the chance of death casualties. But fortunately, people are recovering from this infection. But the danger exists even after COVID recovery because many side effects of COVID-19 have also been reported. One of the side effects of covid-19 that is witnessed in most cases is mucormycosis or black fungus. This deadly black fungus has become a cause of worry for the country. This article will give you all the details about this black fungus so that you can take better precautions. But first, let’s understand why it is in the news. 

What is Mucormycosis?

What is Mucormycosis

Mucormycosis or simply called black fungus is a fungal infection caused by micromycetes. These micromycetes are small microorganisms that live in decaying matter and present in the soil. 

These organisms are present in the air and when any already weak patient in contact with moisture inhales that air that contains these moulds, these organisms multiply themselves and cause problems. 

This disease first occurs as an infection on the skin around the eyes, nose, forehead, cheeks, etc. But it does not restrict itself to that part and continues spreading to vital internal organs like the lungs and brain.

This patch of fungal infection leads to discolouration of that part and causes many other problems like breathlessness, unclear vision etc. 

Why is Black Fungus or Mucormycosis making headlines?

Mucormycosis or simply called black fungus cases is making headlines because more than 5500 cases of Black fungus have been recorded in COVID patients in several districts of Maharashtra, Telangana, MP, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and many more states. 

The number of Mucormycosis cases recorded in different states

The number of Mucormycosis cases recorded in different states

Maharashtra which is the worst-hit state due to Black fungus has recorded over 90 casualties besides 500 Black fungus cases in those who recovered from COVID-19. 

Similarly, almost 226 Black Fungus cases are seen in Haryana, making it the second-worst case due to Black fungus. This number is almost 80 in Telangana. 

India’s most populous state, UP’s capital, Lucknow has also witnessed eight deaths due to Mucormycosis. Similarly, Jharkhand has seen four deaths. In states like Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Goa and Odisha have also reported one death case due to Black fungus.  

For other states data is unavailable due to a lack of reporting. 

The number of Mucormycosis cases recorded in different states

Mucormycosis cases recorded in different states

Some States have declared black fungus as an epidemic. These states are Rajasthan, Orissa and Gujarat. Some states like Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Telangana etc. have declared mucormycosis as a Notifiable disease under the Epidemic Disease act. According to the act, a notifiable disease means that every black fungus case has to be reported to the state government. 

The states are facing many problems in tackling Black fungus due to a lack of adequate antifungal drugs. Maharashtra, the worst-hit state, revealed how private pharmaceutical companies recorded no stock of this drug. It was even told that out of 1.50 lakh vials of this drug needed by the state, only 16k vials are available. Therefore the state has decided to import this drug and also notified a global tender for the same. 

A similar problem is faced by Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Odisha which got less or sometimes no supply of this essential drug, liposomal amphotericin B.  

Steps by Centre to tackle the rising cases

Steps by Centre to tackle the rising cases

With almost 5500 cases of black fungus reported in the country, the onus to take adequate measures to Control Black fungus has shifted on the Central govt. The first step the centre took was to ask all the states in the country to notify this disease as an epidemic or a notifiable disease under the epidemic disease act of 1897. 

By making it a notifiable disease the centre is trying to make it compulsory for all private and govt. entities to enlist all the black fungus cases and report them to concerned authorities. The Green City, Union Territory of Chandigarh has also made Black fungus, a notifiable disease after central government’s notice. 

Besides this, the centre has given a surety to states of an adequate supply of this drug called Amphotericin-B. Union minister Mansukh Mandaviya revealed that to tackle the inadequacy of this essential drug, the government is permitting some drug manufacturing firms. 

Who is likely to face risk from Black fungus or Mucormycosis? 

risk from Black fungus or Mucormycosis

This deadly disease has been recorded in covid recovered patients according to the health ministry. The most severe cases of black fungus have been found in those covid patients that are given oxygen therapy in ICU. This is because the humidifier, which is being used for oxygen therapy, increases the chance of fungal infection as the moisture content increases. 

People with high diabetes and other CO-Morbidities and a weak immunity system due to medicines are more likely to suffer from this disease. Other factors that can increase the likeliness of this disease are the continuous use of steroids and those undergoing voriconazole therapy. 

The infection can be severe in these people because dear immunity to fight with these pathogens reduces drastically. An unclean hospital environment can also be the cause of this disease. 

Why is the disease creating so much panic (what effect can it have on COVID patients)

Why is the disease creating so much panic

Mucormycosis can seriously impact COVID recovered and recovering patients because it begins as a skin infection and can spread to delicate parts like the lungs, eyes and brain. Due to this black fungus, the chance of blood coughing discolouration, vision blurring, difficulty in breathing etc. is likely. 

It is not the first time that a fungal infection is found but the problem is that it is reading very fastly in covid patients. The infection is so severe that it can lead to face deformities (called rhino orbital-cerebral mucormycosis) and even the recovered patients have to be admitted to the hospital again. 

The risk is more because the mortality rate from this Black fungus is as high as 50%. Therefore a timely diagnosis is a must to save the person to revamp the production.  

Symptoms of Mucormycosis

Symptoms of Mucormycosis

Certain symptoms can reveal the presence of black fungus. Early detection of this disease can aid in timely cure. The common symptoms are: 

  1. Facial deformity (Black crust around the nose): The first effect of mucormycosis is seen on the nose and face. The fungus has the potential to severely alter the structure of the face. So, a common symptom of black fungus is the formation of black rust around the nose besides swelling of the nose and eye area. This symptom can be so deadly that facial surgery might be required for treatment. 
  1. Swelling of forehead and headache: Another prominent symptom of fungal infection is swelling of forehead along with headache. This is seen when black fungus on mucormycosis starts impacting your nervous system. This can lead to swelling, pain, inflammation, redness and severe headache. This can further lead to problems like cognitive disabilities, memory loss, and other mental problems. 
  1. Eyes, cheeks and other facial parts can swell: Black Fungal disease can also lead to one-sided facial pain, swelling of eyes and cheeks or numbness in the facial area. 
  1. Partial blindness and impact on vision: Another problem from mucormycosis is the impact on eyes and nerves. These problems include eye pain, redness, itching, partial blindness, vision loss etc. Sometimes the infection can be so serious that permanent blindness can be caused.
  1. Respiratory problem: Black fungal infection can also spread to the lungs and respiratory problems. It can also lead to pulmonary mucormycosis which means that the infection is impacting the Lungs. The symptom can be so severe that it can be seen in the form of nose bleeding, facial sensations, blockage of nasal passage etc. Other symptoms associated with COVID-19 like cough, chest pain, fever etc. Can also return. 

Treatment of Mucormycosis

Treatment of Mucormycosis

To treat Black fungus, the antifungal drug named amphotericin B is required. Since this disease can impact different body parts a multi-disciplinary approach is a must. ENT surgeons, dental, neuro and general surgeons are required to tackle and treat this disease properly. 

But the problem is that there is a scarcity of this essential drug, Amphotericin B, which is essential for fungal disease treatment, in the country. 

Owing to the deficiency of this drug, the IMA (Indian Medical Association) has requested Narendra Modi to permit eligible pharmaceutical companies to manufacture this drug. 

Closing words

The country is grappling with a very serious problem of COVID-19. Adding to the already tense situation is the headline on COVID-19 side effects like Black Fungal infection or mucormycosis. Mucormycosis is a very deadly disease with possible effects on different body parts. Several cases and deaths due to this fungal disease are recorded in different states. The Centre and  States are trying to cope up with this new problem through various legal and medical procedures. But more than that is the need to take individual steps for prevention. The need of the hour is to boost our immunity to withstand micro-organisms. Also preventing COVID-19 infection by wearing a mask, taking vaccines and maintaining social distance is vital.

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The SKM said that they will be meeting the government at Singhu Border on Thursday at noon to come up with a formal decision and later end the protest.

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