Mucormycosis is a rare and serious fungal infection that has been present for a long time now. While the cases of this infection were relatively less, the Covid-19 outbreak has given a boost to the spread of this infection. Commonly known as black fungus, the infection is now detected among Covid-19 patients across India. With a significant increase in the fungal infection cases, the government has mandated that all states have to report suspected and confirmed cases of mucormycosis to the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP).
Now let’s take a look at what this infection is and why it is caused more frequently among Covid-19 patients. The infection is rare, but once a person is infected, the fungus manifests in the skin, or can affect the brain or lungs. Many states in India, including Haryana, Maharashtra and Delhi, have witnessed cases of this infection among Covid-19 patients.
Who can get mucormycosis?
The infection which is caused by a group of molds/fungus is abundant in the environment. People having sinus problems or those who are on medication for lung problems, have diabetes, cancer, organ transplant, are hospitalised or recovering Covid-19 infection, are susceptible to get the infection. The covid-19 infection has created an ideal environment for fungus Mucorales spores to grow and spread.
What are the symptoms?
People infected with mucormycosis can experience pain and redness around the eyes or nose. They can also have a fever, headache, shortness of breath, coughing, or bloody vomits. In some cases, altered mental status can also be seen. Some warning signs are there that can indicate the presence of infection. This includes blurred or double vision with pain, loosening of teeth, toothache, blackish/bloody discharge from the nose, one-sided facial pain or swelling in cheekbones, skin lesion, and chest pains.
What are preventive measures?
If anyone is working at a dusty construction site, wearing a mask is strictly advised. Apart from this, people doing gardening are asked to wear shoes, long trousers as well as long-sleeved shirts and gloves. Everyone should maintain personal hygiene with a scrub bath. Those who have diabetes need to keep it in control and monitor blood glucose levels. These need to be monitored especially after the Covid-19 infection. Steroid use is to be reduced and immunomodulating drugs are to be discontinued.
What is the treatment for black fungus?
An IE report noted that normal saline (IV) infusion is administered for 4-6 weeks before the administration of antifungal Amphotericin B dose. This dose is given according to 3-4 mg per kg of body weight per day. In some cases, surgery may be required.