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How to protect from black fungus after Covid-19 infection

Posted on: 20 May 2021

By: Dr Vinoth Kumar

Published in:

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Post COVID recovery patients are facing with a lot of complications. One among these is the Black fungal infection.

What is black fungal infection?

In medical terminology, it is called Mucormycosis. It is a rare fungal infection that can sometimes be fatal.

What causes this infection?

This infection is caused by a group of fungi called mucor moulds. It includes 27 different moulds most common being a fungus called Rhizopus

Is this a new infection like COVID?

Mucor moulds are commonly found in soil, plants, manure, and decaying fruits and vegetables. It is a black and white cottony fungus that grows over decaying fruits, vegetables, bread etc.

Can anyone get this infection?

Normal healthy individuals are not usually susceptible to these fungal infections, But if their immune system (infection-fighting system) is weakened like in the following conditions, they may develop mucormycosis

  1. Diabetes mellitus
  2. Cancer chemotherapy
  3. Post organ transplantation
  4. Long term steroid therapy
  5. ICU admissions
  6. Congenital or acquired immunodeficiency ( like AIDS)

Why is this infection seen after COVID recovery?

COVID infection is a condition in which a person’s immune system is largely affected. It takes 1 to 2 months for patients to come back to their original health. Particularly severely affected patients. Moreover, usage of certain therapies in COVID increases the susceptibility for this fungal infection.

Which part of the body does this fungus affect?

The fungus commonly affects

  1. Rhinocerebral – nose, sinuses, eyes and brain
  2. Cutaneous – skin
  3. Pulmonary – lungs
  4. Gastrointestinal – stomach and intestines

What are the symptoms of this infection?

Common symptoms of this infection are:

  1. Sinusitis — nasal blockage or congestion, nasal discharge (blackish/bloody)
  2. Local pain on the cheekbone, one-sided facial pain, numbness or swelling
  3. Blackish discolouration over the bridge of nose/palate
  4. Loosening of teeth, jaw involvement
  5. Blurred or double vision with pain
  6. Thrombosis, necrotic skin lesion and blackish skin ulcers
  7. Cough, chest pain, pleural effusion, worsening of respiratory symptoms
  8. Severe headache, seizures and coma
  9. Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding

Is this infection deadly?

This fungal infection has a high mortality rate of 50 – 60 %. If not detected and treated early this infection can be highly fatal

Will all post-Covid patients get this infection?    

Not all Covid patients will get this infection. There are some high-risk patients who have high chances of getting this infection during or within 1 month of recovery from COVID infection. They are

  1. COVID patients with comorbidities especially uncontrolled diabetes mellitus.
  2. COVID patients who took steroid therapy or other immunomodulators
  3. COVID patients who required humidified oxygen
  4. COVID patients who were admitted in ICU and required mechanical ventilation
  5. COVID patients who were given broad-spectrum antibiotics

Is there any treatment for this infection?

Yes. Early identification of symptoms and appropriate antifungals along with debridement of the infected area will increase the chances of cure in this disease

How to protect ourselves from this deadly black fungal infection?

  1. Good sugar control in diabetics – careful glucose monitoring and medications
  2. Judicious use of steroids – steroids are live-saving medications in COVID patients and to be used only for patients with moderate to severe disease as per the doctor’s advice. Over the counter use of steroids is a definite risk
  3. Be informed of the symptoms of this infection and report to your doctor immediately if any symptoms are noticed. Because earlier the treatment better is the recovery.
  4. Maintain the hygiene of oxygen and ventilator humidifiers