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‘Black fungus’

‘Black fungus’ 

Why in news:

Mucormycosis, a serious fungal infection but otherwise rare, has been observed in a number of Covid-19 patients recently. While there is no major outbreak, the national Covid task force has issued an advisory.

What is mucormycosis?

  • Mucormycosis, commonly called black fungus, is a rare but serious fungal infection caused by a kind of fungus called mucormycete, which is abundant in the environment.
  • It mainly affects people who have health problems or take medicines that lower the body’s ability to fight germs and sickness.
  • The disease often manifests in the skin and also affects the lungs and the brain.

Reason for spread?

  • Sinuses or lungs of such individuals get affected after they inhale fungal spores from the air.
  • Doctors in some states have noted a rise in cases of mucormycosis among people hospitalized or recovering from Covid 19, with some requiring urgent surgery.
  • Usually, mucormycetes does not pose a major threat to those with a healthy immune system.

Symptoms?
Warning signs include pain and redness around the eyes or nose, with fever, headache, coughing, shortness of breath, bloody vomits, and altered mental status.

What’s the treatment?

  • While it is treated with antifungals, mucormycosismay eventually require surgery. Doctors have said that it is of utmost importance to control diabetes, reduce steroid use, and discontinue immuno-modulating drugs.
  • To maintain adequate systemic hydration, the treatment includes infusion of normal saline (IV) before infusion of amphotericin B and antifungal therapy, for at least 4-6 weeks.

How can one prevent it?

  • Experts advise that you use masks if you are visiting dusty construction sites.
  • Wear shoes, long trousers, long-sleeved shirts and gloves while handling soil (gardening), moss or manure.
  • Maintain personal hygiene including a thorough scrub bath.

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