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Home >Science >Health >Black Fungus: Govt shares do's and don'ts amid rise in Mucormycosis cases in Covid patients

Amid increasing concern over the rise in the number of cases of mucormycosis or "black fungus", the Centre has asked doctors to look out for signs of the rare but potentially fatal infection in Covid-19 patients.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has advised people on the early detection and management of the black fungal infection that has been reported in a number of Covid-19 patients, especially in Maharashtra.

Sharing four slides on the fungus, Vardhan said, "Awareness and early diagnosis can help curb the spread of the fungal infection."

What is mucormycosis?

Mucormycosis is a fungal infection triggered by coronavirus. Black fungus or mucormycosis has been a cause of disease and death of patients in transplants, ICUs and immunodeficient patients for since long.

What causes Mucormycosis?

Mucormycosis or black fungus is a complication caused by a fungal infection. People catch mucormycosis by coming in contact with the fungal spores in the environment. It can also develop on the skin after the fungus enters the skin through a cut, scrape, burn, or other types of skin trauma.

The disease is being detected among patients who are recovering or have recovered from COVID-19. Moreover, anyone who is diabetic and whose immune system is not functioning well needs to be on the guard against this.

According to an advisory issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research, the following conditions in COVID-19 patients increase the risk of mucormycosis infection:

1) Uncontrolled diabetes

2) Weakening of immune system due to use of steroids

3) Prolonged ICU/hospital stay

4) Co-morbidities / post organ transplant / cancer

5) Voriconazole therapy (used to treat serious fungal infections)

What are the common symptoms?

Mucormycosis begins to manifest as skin infection in the air pockets located behind our forehead, nose, cheekbones, and in between the eyes and teeth. It then spreads to eyes, lungs and can even spread to the brain. It leads to blackening or discoloration over the nose, blurred or double vision, chest pain, breathing difficulties and coughing of blood.

Common symptoms of Mucormycosis
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Common symptoms of Mucormycosis

How to prevent Mucormycosis?

1) Use masks if you are visiting dusty construction sites

2) Wear shoes, long trousers, long sleeve shirts and gloves while handling soil (gardening), moss or manure

3) Maintain personal hygiene, including thorough scrub bath

4) The disease can be managed by controlling diabetes, discontinuing immunomodulating drugs, reducing steroids and extensive surgical debridement- to remove all necrotic materials, according to the advisory.

Do's

  • Control hyperglycemia
  • Monitor blood glucose level post-COVID-19 discharge and also in diabetics
  • Use steroid judiciously
  • Use clean, sterile water for humidifiers during oxygen therapy
  • Use antibiotics/antifungals judiciously

Don'ts

  • Do not miss warning signs and symptoms
  • Do not consider all the cases with blocked nose as cases of bacterial sinusitis, particularly in the context of immunosuppression and/or COVID-19 patients on immunomodulators
  • Do not hesitate to seek aggressive investigations, as appropriate (KOH staining & microscopy, culture, MALDITOF), for detecting fungal etiology
  • Do not lose crucial time to initiate treatment for mucormycosis

After recovering from coronavirus, one should closely monitor and should not miss any warning signs and symptoms mentioned above, as the fungal infection is found to emerge even weeks or months after recovery.

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