Mucormycosis, popularly known as Black Fungus Infection, is a rare but serious infection caused by molds mucormycetes. These fungi exist throughout the environment but are primarily found in soil, dead and decay matter, rotten woods, etc. Black fungus infection generally affects the nose, sinus, mouth, eye and can even spread to the lungs, brain, and other organs as well. Since these fungus spores are present everywhere & most of the people come in contact with them, so it’s highly impossible to keep ourselves away from mucormycetes. Generally, these fungi are harmless but target people who have a weakened immune system or any underlying chronic illness. It is a non-contagious infection and cannot transmit by physical contact. People get this infection after inhaling fungus spores from the environment causing brain, lungs, and sinus infection. The infection can also be caused when these spores enter the skin through skin injuries and spread to other body parts.
As per various research and studies, black fungus infection can spread through the bloodstream and infect different organs and body parts. Types of black fungus are:
Pulmonary Mucormycosis: It is the most common in cancer patients and individuals who have had stem cell transplant or organ transplant.
Rhinocerebral Mucormycosis: The sinus infection that can spread to the brain. This type of mucormycosis is found in patients with uncontrolled diabetes and patients who had undergone a kidney transplant.
Cutaneous Mucormycosis: It is the skin infection when fungi enter the body through damaged skin, open wounds, or scrape.
Gastrointestinal Mucormycosis: This type of fungus infection is common in young children, especially low birth weight and premature infants of less than one month who have had surgery or are on medications that lower the body’s immunity.
Disseminated Mucormycosis: This fungus infection usually affects the brain, but when the infection spreads through the bloodstream, it can affect other body parts such as the heart, spleen, and skin.
Symptoms of black fungus depend on which body part the fungus is growing and the type of mucormycosis.
Symptoms of rhinocerebral (sinus and brain) mucormycosis:
Symptoms of pulmonary (lung) mucormycosis
Symptoms of gastrointestinal mucormycosis
Symptoms of cutaneous mucormycosis
Symptoms of disseminated mucormycosis
It usually occurs in people who are already sick, so it might be difficult to distinguish symptoms of mucormycosis because patients are already having other disease symptoms.
During Covid-19 treatment or post-recovery, patients who have been prescribed steroids are particularly at high risk because steroids slow down the immune response. Also, patients who have undergone an organ transplant or stem cell transplant are at increased risk of developing black fungus infection.
Apart from Covid infection, people who suffer from medical conditions and who have a weakened immune system are more prone to develop mucormycosis. For example, people with viral diseases such as influenza, common cold, HPV, respiratory syncytial virus infection, viral hepatitis, and immunodeficiency diseases are more prone to black fungus infection.
As these fungal spores are found predominantly in soil, people who regularly work in soil and dusty areas may have higher risk of getting mucormycosis.
Since these fungus spores are ubiquitous, it is impossible to neglect their exposure. However, there are some precautions people should take to prevent the risk:
Lab investigation of a fluid sample from the respiratory tract and tissue sample collection from infected area for biopsy.
Imaging investigations of CT scan for sinuses, lungs, and infected body parts.
However, the tests and scans are recommended basis the medical history, physical examination, symptoms, and infected body parts.
Black fungus infection has been reported in Covid patients who had been on ventilators due to their airways being exposed to moisture and humidity.
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