On Tuesday evening (May 18), the first case of Black fungus infection in Assam was detected at a private hospital in Guwahati. The horrifying picture of a man lying on a hospital bed with blackish spots on his entire face was circling all over the media. The state already wounded by the second wave of COVID-19 had just started its fight back against the deadly virus when the news of the first infection of the black fungus hit. Since then the entire state has gone into panic mode. Various theories, speculations, opinions regarding the fungal infection have been circling amongst the people of the state.
Hence, our team at headline8 did thorough research on the virus and here is what we found out:
What is black fungus?
Black fungus, also known as mucormycosis, is a serious but rare fungal infection. It is caused by a fungus called mucor which is usually found in soil, plants, manure, and decaying fruits and vegetables. It can also develop in the skin after the fungus enters the skin through a cut, abrasion, burn, or other types of skin trauma.
Whom does it affect?
According to a report released by the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, it can develop in people with uncontrollable diabetes, immunosuppressed patients, people with HIV, People with trauma including. Moreover, it can also be caused due to malnutrition and prolonged stay in ICU.
How is it linked to COVID-19?
It has not yet been disclosed how the fungal infection is linked to COVID-19. However, experts believe that it may be triggered by the use of steroids, a life-saving treatment for severe and critically ill Covid-19 patients.
The steroids used to treat inflammation in the lungs in COVID cases, reduce immunity and push up blood sugar levels in both diabetics and non-diabetic Covid-19 patients. It is thought that this drop in immunity could be triggering these cases of mucormycosis.
According to the Centre for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), Black Fungus cases have an overall all-cause mortality rate of 54 percent. This rate varied depending on the underlying patient’s condition, type of fungus and the body site affected.
What are the symptoms of the infection?
The symptoms of mucormycosis depend on where the fungus is growing in the body. According to the GMCH report, the symptoms include:
- Nasal blockage, pain over the cheekbone, eyes, blood-stained or blackish nasal discharge, congestion or redness and swelling of eyes and nose, blurred vision, painful eye movement, double vision and blindness.
- Headache and fever, seizures, altered mental state.
- Cough and blood-stained sputum, shortness of breath with worsening respiratory problem.
- Redness, blackish discoloration in the skin with necrosis.
Is it contagious?
The fungal infection cannot transmit between people and animals. Those who contract this infection do so by coming in contact with the fungal spores in the environment.
It is worth mentioning that due to the increasing number of black fungus cases in the country, the centre has urged all the states to declare the fungal infection as an epidemic. While Rajasthan and Telangana have already done so, Assam too is on the verge of declaring Black Fungus as an epidemic.