All that you need to know about Black Fungus (Mucormycosis)

-Mucormycosis is a deadly and fatal disease that is spreading rapidly in India for the past few months.

-It is caused by the class of fungi called as Zygomycetes.

-Mucormycosis generally affects people with low immunity systems such as diabetes, recent surgery, underlying illness, or people who have recently recovered from COVID.

It is not a transmittable disease i.e it cannot be passed from person to person hence it is often overlooked.

The fungi are present in the environment, especially in the soil and water. Exposure to this environment coupled with decreased immunity gives rise to the development of mucormycosis.



(Picture credit: modification of work by DR.Lucille Georg.CDC)

Signs and Symptoms:

Mucormycosis generally affects the respiratory tract or the skin.

It may enter through a wound/cut or burns present in the skin.

It is characterized by-

-fever

-cough

-headache

-nasal congestion

-sinus pain

-darkened skin color

-swelling of eyes/palate

- sudden mobility of multiple teeth


Diagnosis:

-Provision diagnosis is made based on the medical history and physical examination.

-The sample of the nasal swab or phlegm gives the definitive diagnosis.

-The extent of the lesion can be detected through a CT scan or MRI scan although the exact boundaries of the lesion are difficult to estimate.


Treatment:

-Treatment involves I.V antifungal (e.g.Amphotericin-B) and aggressive debridement of the infected area followed by oral antifungal for a couple of weeks.

-It may also involve the removal of the affected part such as the eye or the palate to prevent the spreading of the fungus.


The prognosis of the disease is fair to poor as most of the patients arrive when the fungus has spread to a large area.

Since mucormycosis does not present with severe symptoms and spreads to adjacent parts within days, treatment mostly includes surgical debridement of the area and aggressive treatment has to be given to prevent a recurrence.


Prevention:

-Wear a mask whenever possible while stepping outdoors and DO NOT reuse the mask as it may get damp with sweat and harbour the fungus.

-Wear masks while working in the soil such as during gardening.

-When symptoms are mild are mucormycosis is suspected, immediately seek a doctor.

-Maintain your blood glucose level under control.

-Maintain good oral and respiratory hygiene.

-Exercise regularly and eat well balanced diet.

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