Black Fungus : Something to fear or Not !

News about Black Fungus infection is getting circulated on TV Channels and social media. Some people are beginning to panic, thinking of it as a new contagious disease. The truth is that most of us don't need to fear, but some of us should as if this infection remains undetected in early stages then in 50-80% cases it can be fatal. Black Fungus is not a contagious disease and it is not something new for medical community.

What is Fungus ?

Fungi evolved 400 million years ago on Earth, much before humans. It helped life grow out from water to land. Fungi decomposes organic waste and recycles the nutrients locked inside dead leaves and plants and returns the minerals to soil. 

What is Fungal Infection ?

When fungus becomes problematic for a living being then it is called a fungal infection. Most of the fungal infections occur only in plants. Animals are not easily affected due to our advanced immune system, but sometimes weaker immune system can make it happen. Some types of fungus live on healthy human body causing no problems at all, just like good bacteria. Candida is one of such fungi, but if our body gets weak due to some disease or drug then it may cause oral thrush, diaper rash or vaginal infections.

What is Black Fungus ?

If you have ever seen black colored fungus growing on old fruits or bread, then you have seen the black fungus that we are talking about. It is Mucoralean fungi and usually less problematic for humans. But if it infect humans then it is called mucormycosis.

Mucoralean Fungi

This fungi is usually the very first colonizer on dead plants. Like most of the other fungi, it produces millions of microscopic spores and disperses them in air. The spherical dark spores are like a seed. As soon as these spores land on moist surface of a dead plant, it starts to grow thread like structures and the chain reaction continues.

Are fungal spores present in air surrounding us ?

Fungal spores measure thousandth to hundredth of a millimeter. They can float in air and can't be seen with naked eye. Spores count in air around us remains from 100 to 5000 spores per cubic meter. Their actual count may vary depending on humidity, temperature, availability of dead organic material and season. In tropical areas like India, spores count remain higher during summer. It is even present in the air inside your house. Just leave a moist piece of bread in your kitchen and you will notice fungus growing on it within a day, which starts from spores in the air.

What is mucormycosis ?

If  a person with weak immune system inhales Mucoralean fungi spores then it may result into mucormycosis. It is non-contagious but fatal if not treated soon. Cases of mucormycosis have increased in past few decades, mostly among those patients who have undergone an organ transplant surgery. Transplant patients are usually kept on medicines that suppresses their immune system so that their body can accept a foreign organ, but low performance of immune system also makes them prone to black fungus.

Who is most prone to mucormycosis ?

Anybody with a weaker immune system is prone to mucormycosis. People suffering from COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, severe burns, cancers, diabetes and congenital bone marrow disease come under this category. COVID19 patients who have recently taken steroids are at risk because steroids suppress our immune system.

What happens to our body during mucormycosis ?

Acording to some studies done on rats and rabbits show that if  healthy animal inhales these spores then immune system handles it easily, but when immune system is suppressed then spores germinate inside body and create its tube like branches. Further it invades the blood vessels and destroys them. If spores reaches the sinuses then it attacks our lungs, brain, eyes and central nervous system.

What are the symptoms of mucormycosis ?

  • fever
  • headache
  • shortness of breath 
  • reddish and swollen skin near the nose or eyes
  • facial pain
  • cough producing bloody or dark fluids

Note: Some symptoms of COVID19 and mucormycosis are similar. 

How can we diagnose mucormycosis ?

  • X-ray scan of the lungs
  • tissue biopsy

How can we lower the risk of getting infected by Black Fungus ?

  • Don't take antibiotics and steroids unnecessarily, as it suppresses your immune system.
  • If you are taking oxygen therapy then ensure that humidifiers used are sterile.
  • Air of ICUs in hospitals should be regularly monitored and hygienic environment should be maintained.
  • If you are recovering from COVID19, organ transplant or taking immuno-suppressants then you should stay indoor under hygienic environment to reduce the risk. Go outdoor only when you are fully recovered.
  • Gardening and farming should be avoided by recovering patients as fungus spores are abundant there.
  • Educate yourself and others about this disease.

Precaution for everyone during COVID19

Now a days a number of people are taking COVID19 drugs, just as a precautionary measure to save themselves from SARS-CoV-2 virus. It can unnecessarily suppress your immune system and make you prone to mucormycosis (black fungus). Drug abuse is a serious issue and people often fall prey to it while trying to be their own doctor. 

We hope that this article by has helped you in understanding Black Fungus. Just spread the word and save others.

Post a Comment