An Epidemic within the Pandemic: Black Fungus, symptoms and preventive measures.

black fungus
Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

Around 9000 people have been infected with the deadly black fungus disease till now across India. The continuous rise in infection has made ten states declare it an epidemic. With the ongoing battle of the second wave of the COVID 19 pandemic, black fungus cases have increased across various states in the country. A number of deaths have crossed the 200 marks. An epidemic during an already ongoing global pandemic has become a matter of extreme fear and horror among the people of this country. Jammu and Kashmir have become the latest state to declare the disease an epidemic.

Mucormycosis is a very rare infection. It is caused by exposure to mucor mould which is commonly found in soil, plants, manure, and decaying fruits and vegetables. “It is ubiquitous and found in soil and air and even in the nose and mucus of healthy people,” said Dr. Nair, a Mumbai-based surgeon to the BBC.

Common symptoms of black fungus include discoloration of the nose and tongue, blurry vision, breathing problems, chest pain, coughing along with blood, redness in the eyes, fever, cough, headache, black lesion inside the mouth and vomiting.

It affects the sinuses, the brain, and the lungs and can be life-threatening in diabetic or severely immunocompromised individuals, such as cancer patients or people with HIV/AIDS. Doctors believe mucormycosis, which has an overall mortality rate of 50% is triggered by the use of steroids which is used in the treatment of COVID 19. It also attacks people with weak immune, especially diabetic people. Since India is home to one of the largest diabetic populations, this disease is spreading like wildfire. “Diabetes lowers the body’s immune defenses, coronavirus exacerbates it, and then steroids which help fight Covid-19 act like fuel to the fire,” says Dr. Nair.

There is a lot of fungal diseases present in the atmosphere but thanks to our body’s internal defense mechanism known as immunity, helps keep it at bay. However, the pandemic has destroyed many immune systems and this is the reason why people are getting infected with new diseases at a very alarming rate. But as far as the black fungus disease is concerned, it should be kept in mind that it is not contagious and does not spread from one person to another, which is a sigh of relief.

Preventive measures to be followed:

– Cleaning and replacement of humidifiers (for those using Oxygen Concentrators).

– Sterile normal saline should be used in the humidifier bottle and changed daily.

-Masks should be disinfected daily.

– Those who are taking steroids should also keep checking their blood sugar levels.

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