Mucormycosis: Amid an aggressive second wave of coronavirus, now doctors are detecting among COVID-19 patients, mucormycosis or black fungus. Mucormycosis is a rare disease, but it is a serious one, and is being detected in some of the states including Gujarat, Maharashtra as well as Delhi. The disease is serious because it manifests in the skin of the patient and has the ability to affect the brain as well as the lungs, according to a report in IE. Now, based on the cases detected in these states, an evidence-based advisory in this regard has been shared by national COVID-19 task force experts.
Mucormycosis: The disease explained
The infection is rare, but is serious if one contracts it. Mucormycetes are a natural group of moulds found in the environment and these groups of moulds cause this infection in people who have health problems and are taking medication which lowers their immunity against pathogens found in the environment.
If the fungal spores are inhaled from the air, then the person’s lungs or sinuses can be impacted. It is being witnessed increasingly among COVID-19 patients who were hospitalised or have recovered from it, and some have even had to get surgery done due to this. Usually, however, these moulds do not impact people with a healthy immune system in a major way, the report stated.
Signs of mucormycosis
If someone has contracted the black fungus, there are a few warning signs they can look out for, including pain around the eyes or nose or redness in these areas along with shortness of breath, vomits containing blood, headache, fever, a change in mental condition as well as coughing. The advisory states that people must look out for the infection if they have sinusitis, a blackish discolouration over the bridge of the nose, one-sided numbness, facial pain or swelling, or chest pain. Apart from that, if someone’s teeth begin to loosen or they feel like their respiratory symptoms are becoming worse, then also they should be on the lookout for this infection.
Usually, mucormycosis is treated with antifungals, but in some cases the patient might need a surgery. As per doctors, controlling diabetes, reducing the use of steroids, and stopping immunomodulating drugs are very important in such cases. Moreover, as a part of the treatment, the patient is infused with normal saline or IV and then with amphotericin B and antifungal therapy for a period of one to one and a half months, so that systemic hydration is maintained.
Adjusting to life after surgery
In surgery due to mucormycosis, patients might lose their upper jaw or even eye in some cases, and they would need to adjust to how to function without them after the surgery. Apart from chewing and swallowing, the facial aesthetics and self esteem can also be impacted in patients. However, for both the eye and the jaw, artificial substitutes are available, the report cited doctors as saying. Moreover, the replacement of artificial substitutes can begin once the patient has stabilised after the surgery, but meanwhile, reassuring the individual of such interventions can be very important because otherwise they might panic due to the sudden loss.
Prevention of black fungus
Black fungus in itself is a rare disease, but some groups can be more vulnerable to it. People suffering from uncontrolled diabetes, those who have stayed in the ICU for a long period of time, people who take steroids and people with comorbidities are more vulnerable to it. It has been advised that in case these vulnerable individuals are visiting construction sites, then they must wear masks, and they should have shoes, gloved, long trousers as well as long-sleeved shirts when they handle soil, manure or moss. Moreover, scrub baths are important to maintain personal hygiene.