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Black Fungus: A new threat in times of COVID

Hospitals across the country have reported an increase in black fungus infection, Mucormycosis amongst COVID-19 patients. “We have seen at least five cases of Mucormycosis also called, Black Fungus. It is among serious COVID-19 patients under treatment at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the health facility. At least four patients have died due to this complication. At least two more centres have also reported Mucormycosis cases among COVID-19 patients,” as stated by a tertiary care physician in the local newspaper.

-By Areeba Mahmood


What is Black Fungus?

Black fungus is an extremely rare but lethal infection caused by a fungus, Mucor. It is found in soil, rotten vegetables/fruits, leaves and animal waste. It can also be spread amongst patients in hospitals. The fungal spores, when inhaled, cause an infection that affects the lungs, brain and sinuses. It usually does not affect healthy individuals. People with weakened immune systems are at a greater risk of contracting this infection.

Black Fungus in COVID-19 patients

Frequent use of steroids in COVID patients diminishes their immune system. It also increases blood sugar levels, an ideal environment for fungus to thrive. The added stress on the body of a COVID patient by a secondary fungal infection causes serious complications. COVID patients should be meticulously monitored for signs and symptoms. Early diagnosis is imperative for the prognosis of this infection. What’s more daunting is that patients who are not severely ill due to the coronavirus can succumb to this secondary deadly fungal infection.

Are covid negative people also at risk?

The answer is yes. People with diabetes with uncontrolled sugar levels, individuals with weakened immune systems such as cancer or HIV/AIDS patients, or patients with a prolonged steroids intake, are at an increased risk for acquiring this infection. Hence, covid patients with similar comorbidities are more likely to fall target to Black Fungus. The infection is not contagious. However, prolonged hospital/ICU stay can result in the spread.

Conclusion

According to research, Black Fungus has a mortality rate of 50% in both covid and non-covid patients. With the rising prevalence of Black Fungus in covid patients, educating people and spreading awareness as early diagnosis and intervention are crucial in managing this harmful infection.


-The author is contributing writer at Dental News Pakistan and can be reached at areebamahmood31@gmail.com

May 24, 2021

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