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Black Fungus Symptoms

black fungus symptoms
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Since 2019, when the pandemic hit our lives, there hasn’t been one day when we did not hear about some of the other variants being released into our environment as if the Coronavirus wasn’t enough. One such injection called the Black Fungus, has not just spread like an infection but there have been so many assumptions that have spread regarding what exactly are the black fungus symptoms and how can one diagnose or get themselves treated for black fungus (also called Mucormycosis). 

In this article, with the help of expert insights from Dr. Ravindra Gupta, a leading internal medicine specialist at The CK Birla Hospital, we will understand what is a black fungus, its symptoms and why COVID patients are being affected by it.

What is Black Fungus?

Black fungus is a non-contagious yet serious and rare fungal infection that if not treated can be fatal. It is mostly found and detected in people who have earlier been infected with coronavirus, viral infectious diseases, immunodeficiency diseases, cancer and other medical conditions. Mucormycosis, or black fungus, is caused by fungi called mucormycetes, which are found in the environment, especially in soil and in conjunction with decaying organic substrates, compost piles, animal faeces, rotting wood, and plant material. This can be seen on rotting fruits and aged bread as a black-coloured growth.

Researchers believe that this type of fungus could have a significant impact on the immune system, it affects the body’s immune system so much that the body becomes more susceptible to fungal infections. This infection, mucormycosis is considered an effect of covid-19, meaning it affects people who have recovered from coronavirus. In recent times, the number of cases of black fungus and the deaths associated with it has increased. Therefore, it is absolutely essential for recovered patients of coronavirus and other immunodeficiency disease patients to learn and understand more about black fungal infection so that they are able to recognise its signs and symptoms.

Signs & Symptoms of Black Fungus

There are several types of black fungus that can affect parts of the body and lead to black fungal infection. Mucormycosis of the skin (Cutaneous), gastrointestinal mucormycosis, pulmonary (lung) mucormycosis, and rhino cerebral (brain and sinus) mucormycosis are all examples of Black Fungus. As a result, Mucormycosis symptoms vary depending on where the fungus is germinating in your body.

(Infographics to be made for each mucormycosis symptom)

Symptoms of Cutaneous (skin) mucormycosis

  • Blisters
  • Ulcers
  • Blackness around the infected area
  • Excessive redness
  • Swelling around the wound
  • Warmth & pain around the infection

Symptoms of gastrointestinal mucormycosis

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Blood in stool
  • Stomach pain
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding

Symptoms of pulmonary (lung) mucormycosis

  • Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath
  • Warm body/fever
  • Cough
  • Chest pain

Symptoms of rhino cerebral (sinus and brain) mucormycosis

  • Facial swelling
  • Fever
  • Nasal or sinus congestion
  • Headache
  • Black lesions on the nasal bridge

Cause of black fungus (mucormycosis)

Mucormycosis is a rare yet fatal fungal infection which attacks the blood vessels and damages the body leading to severe complications like causing tissue necrosis and even death. As per research, it has been found that this fungus starts emerging in the body after the usage of steroids given to coronavirus patients. The drugs given for treating coronavirus patients contain elements which trigger the onset of this fungus. There is no doubt that these medications help relieve the inflammation and manage the effect of covid-19 infection but it comes with severe repercussions, like affecting the body’s ability to fight other infections like mucormycosis. 

There are several types of fungi that can cause mucormycosis. The most common types that cause mucormycosis are Rhizopus species and Mucor species. Other examples include Rhizomucor species, Syncephalastrum species, Cunninghamella bertholletiae, Apophysomyces, Lichtheimia (formerly Absidia), Saksenaea, and Rhizomucor.

Diagnosis & testing of black fungus

To diagnose and test if the patient is infected with black fungus below are some vital steps that should be abided by the patient and the doctor.

  • For diagnosis of any infection, disease or condition the first step is to submit all your medical history, explain your current symptoms without leaving anything out,  get your physical examination done and also submit all laboratory tests (if any) to the healthcare expert. 
  • Once the reports and medical history have been submitted and examined by the healthcare expert he may collect a sample of fluid from your respiratory system to further assess the severity of the infection
  • Depending on the result of the sample collected, you might have to undergo a tissue biopsy in which the doctor will collect a sample of the infected tissue to analyse in the lab for evidence of mucormycosis
  • After the lab reports are received the patient might also have to undergo imaging tests such as a CT scan of the lungs, sinuses and other parts of the body depending on the site of the suspected infection
  • In the end, after collecting all relevant information the doctor will provide a customised treatment plan as per the diagnosis

Treatment of black fungus

After diagnosis, the black fungus needs to be treated with prescribed antifungal medicines. The doctors with the right medication can help stop the growth of the fungus and control the infection until it is completely destroyed. In severe cases, surgery might be recommended as it can help remove dead and infected tissues. Before moving ahead with surgery, the patient needs to be strong mentally and physically as the surgery involves removing parts of the body that are infected.

Why Covid-19 patients affected by it?

Mucormycosis infection occurs in people who have already been infected with some or the immunodeficiency diseases. Patients who take medicines that have potential to lower the ability of the immune system making it difficult to fight infection back with the fungus. When infected with COVID-19 the body becomes weak and more vulnerable to infection thereby leaving the immune system at risk. So, people recovering from Covid-19 are at a higher risk due to a weak immune system.


FAQs

Ques 1. How black fungus spread?

It does not spread from person to person, even though it is a rare infection but a dangerous fungal infection.

Ques 2. How black fungus is caused for COVID patients?

COVID patients become more prone to infection because their immune system becomes weak and also there are times when the medicines given to the patients cause side effects. Therefore, there are chances of black fungus infecting patients recovered from COVID.

Ques 3. Is black fungus contagious?

No, black fungus is not contagious but is a dangerous infection which may even cause death or permanent damage to the body.

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