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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.

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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