What Is Black Fungus? How Does It Affect COVID-19 Patients? An Expert Explains

What Is Black Fungus? How Does It Affect COVID-19 Patients? An Expert Explains

Coronavirus Outbreak, Features
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What Is Black Fungus? How Does It Affect COVID-19 Patients? An Expert ExplainsBanega Swasth India team speaks to Dr Rommel Tickoo, Director, Internal Medicine, Max Healthcare to answer frequently asked questions about the Black Fungus

New Delhi: As India struggles with a deadly second wave of COVID-19, cases of a rare fungal infection called “mucormycosis” are being reported across the country, adding to the worries. Mucormycosis, also known as black fungus, is a fungal infection, recently being found in COVID-19 patients with compromised immunity. The disease results in disfiguration and in some cases, it is proving to be fatal. The life-threatening disease has infected many COVID-19 patients including those who have recovered.

Banega Swasth India team speaks to Dr Rommel Tickoo, Director, Internal Medicine, Max Healthcare to answer frequently asked questions about the Black Fungus or Mucormycosis disease that is infecting COVID-19 patients.

Also Read: Coronavirus Explained: What Is Mucormycosis Or Black Fungus And How It Affects COVID-19 Patients

What Is Black Fungus And Why Are We Seeing More Cases?

Dr Rommel Tickoo: Mucormycosis is basically a fungal disease. It doesn’t affect common people, it only infect people who are immunocompromised, which means if their immunity is low. Talking about the increase in black fungus cases in COVID scenario – it is because to treat the COVID patients we are using steroids which is causing an increase in sugar levels of the patient, and people who are diabetic are anyways at higher risk from this infection. We are also seeing more cases of this in transplanted patients, who have their kidney, lungs transplanted or who are suffering from cancer, HIV.

In the first wave of COVID-19 also, we had seen some cases of black fungus, it is now become more because a lot many people are infected with the virus and unfortunately usage of steroids has also gone up, as a result the risk have increased.

How Does Black Fungus Infect People? What Are The Symptoms To Look Out For?

Dr Rommel Tickoo: Black fungus disease has four varieties, one is rinocerebral that affects your face, it is the most common one. It enters in the body through sinuses and can extend in your eye and even brain. Second variety is pulmonary which has your lung involved. Third variety is gastrointestinal mucor and it is very rare one. Lastly, one is which affects your skin.

Overall, if we talk the mortality from black fungus is 50 per cent, which means people who have this disease are at high risk of death.

The common symptoms which we are seeing in COVID patients are eye pain, headache, jaw pain, toothache, double vision, eyeballs coming out and discolouration of mouth. I suggest, if one is a COVID-19 patient and has some immunocompromised disease, they should look out for these symptoms after 2 to 4 weeks of their COVID-19 recovery.

Watch: COVID-19 And Mucormycosis Or Black Fungus Infection: All You Need To Know

How Is Black Fungus Diagnosed?

Dr Rommel Tickoo: The diagnosis of the disease is simple, it can be seen through endoscopy through telescope and the confirmation can be done by stain, culture or biopsy.  Imaging, CT Scans are very important for diagnostic, in some cases even MRI, as it can tell you the extent of the disease in the patient.

What Is The Treatment Of Black Fungus?

Dr Rommel Tickoo: It is a surgical procedure followed by anti-fungal treatment. However, surgery is very disfiguring because face is involved and whatever tissues are there, one has to remove it as it is a rapidly invasive infection. Sometimes we also have to remove the eye in patient if it is extended that much. Early diagnosis of the infection is the key to prevention in this disease. However, the treatment of the disease is long and can be an expensive affair.

What Is White Fungus?

Dr Rommel Tickoo:  White fungus is also seen more in immunocompromised patients and people who take steroids for longer time in general for some or the other disease. Its mortality is not that high, and the treatment is simple. Only in few ICU patients, who have long stays in the hospital, the fungal infection becomes critical as it comes in the blood.

Also Read: Fungal Infection Among COVID-19 Patients Explained: What Is Yellow Fungus?

Myth or Fact – Black Fungus Found On Onion Can Also Cause This Disease?

Dr Rommel Tickoo: It is a myth. What we see on food is also of mucor variety but it doesn’t infect people commonly. It is also not contagious, meaning it doesn’t spread from one person to another.  It is not like if we have eaten some bad food with fungus on it or if we just smell it, it can infect you with Black Fungus disease.

Excessive Use Of Zinc Can Cause Black Fungus Disease – Myth or Fact?

Dr Rommel Tickoo: Literature says the disease feeds on iron and zinc, so for long time these supplements should not be taken and as it is excess of anything is bad. Even vitamins should be taken for brief time, not for months or years. Having said that, it doesn’t mean if you are taking you will get this disease. To get infected with black fungus, there are a lot of other factors as well.

Also Read: How Safe Are COVID-19 Vaccines? Expert Answers

Can A Non-COVID Patient Contract Black Fungus?

Dr Rommel Tickoo: Of course, they can, but we should know that this disease is very rare. We have seen people who are immunocompromised, who are on steroids for longer duration or are diabetic and has uncontrolled sugar levels get the infection. All these factors combined makes them at higher risk. It is not that the combination of all this in every patient will make them more prone to the fungal infection. It is a rare one.

Also Read: COVID-19 And Black Fungus: Owing To Costs Of Treatment, Poor Families Stand Helpless While Centre Declares It Notifiable Disease

Dirty Masks And Black Fungus – What Is The Link?

Dr Rommel Tickoo: No they cannot, there is no data. Masks are anyways unhygienic, if you keep on wearing same one and don’t wash it. We recommend daily wash of cotton masks for maintaining good personal hygiene.

What Are The Recovery Chances Of A Person From Black Fungus Disease?

Dr Rommel Tickoo: If it is diagnosed at an early stage, people can recover from it. The problem comes when we have different variety of black fungus, one which infects your lungs and other body parts and not just face, as one tends to not see it.

How Should One Protect Themselves From Getting Infected With Black Fungus?

Dr Rommel Tickoo: Prevent yourself from getting COVID, then you automatically prevent yourself from this disease. Get yourself vaccinated and mask up properly. Recent study shows that only 10 to 15 per cent of people in India are wearing a mask properly. Masking and vaccinations are by far the best thing you can do to prevent yourself from this disease.

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

17,66,30,634Cases
5,80,25,717Active
11,47,82,895Recovered
38,22,022Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 193 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 17,66,30,634 and 38,22,022 have died; 5,80,25,717 are active cases and 11,47,82,895 have recovered as on June 16, 2021 at 3:30 am.

India

2,96,33,105 62,224Cases
8,65,43247,946Active
2,83,88,100 1,07,628Recovered
3,79,573 2,542Deaths
In India, there are 2,96,33,105 confirmed cases including 3,79,573 deaths. The number of active cases is 8,65,432 and 2,83,88,100 have recovered as on June 16, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

59,24,773 7,652

1,41,440 8,982

56,69,179 15,176

1,14,154 1,458

Karnataka

27,77,010 5,041

1,62,303 9,859

25,81,559 14,785

33,148 115

Kerala

27,48,204 12,246

1,12,792 1,456

26,23,904 13,536

11,508 166

Tamil Nadu

23,78,298 11,805

1,25,215 11,669

22,23,015 23,207

30,068 267

Andhra Pradesh

18,20,134 5,741

75,134 4,879

17,32,948 10,567

12,052 53

Uttar Pradesh

17,03,207 270

7,221 890

16,74,072 1,104

21,914 56

West Bengal

14,68,044 3,268

20,046 1,125

14,30,949 2,068

17,049 75

Delhi

14,31,498 228

3,078 148

14,03,569 364

24,851 12

Chhattisgarh

9,88,172 609

11,717 943

9,63,113 1,544

13,342 8

Rajasthan

9,50,133 172

5,619 848

9,35,658 1,006

8,856 14

Odisha

8,59,526 3,405

44,358 3,436

8,11,780 6,799

3,388 42

Gujarat

8,21,078 352

8,884 658

8,02,187 1,006

10,007 4

Madhya Pradesh

7,88,649 224

3,610 331

7,76,424 528

8,615 27

Haryana

7,66,357 228

3,703 374

7,53,584 564

9,070 38

Bihar

7,17,949 410

4,360 412

7,04,075 813

9,514 9

Telangana

6,06,436 1,556

19,933 528

5,82,993 2,070

3,510 14

Punjab

5,89,153 628

10,802 1,111

5,62,701 1,691

15,650 48

Assam

4,66,590 3,415

41,184 475

4,21,378 2,906

4,028 34

Jharkhand

3,43,793 184

2,646 416

3,36,058 596

5,089 4

Uttarakhand

3,37,449 274

3,642 266

3,26,822 515

6,985 25

Jammu And Kashmir

3,08,726 715

12,407 1,125

2,92,114 1,830

4,205 10

Himachal Pradesh

1,99,197 321

4,050 382

1,91,737 691

3,410 12

Goa

1,63,048 327

4,175 231

1,55,926 548

2,947 10

Puducherry

1,13,192 355

4,668 279

1,06,828 629

1,696 5

Chandigarh

61,200 40

486 21

59,917 58

797 3

Manipur

61,096 785

8,744 301

51,354 476

998 8

Tripura

60,385 536

4,886 65

54,870 596

629 5

Meghalaya

42,759 450

4,430 99

37,579 542

750 7

Arunachal Pradesh

31,938 290

2,849 40

28,934 326

155 4

Nagaland

23,854 101

2,972 229

20,423 327

459 3

Ladakh

19,649 38

552 20

18,898 57

199 1

Sikkim

18,659 209

3,239 67

15,136 273

284 3

Mizoram

15,899 268

3,637 45

12,191 312

71 1

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,473 9

61 2

10,408 7

4

Lakshadweep

9,297 61

484 36

8,768 96

45 1

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,280 11

105 4

7,049 15

126

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