New Delhi: Mucormycosis is a fungal infection triggered by coronavirus and has been a cause of disease and death of patients in transplants and ICUs. It is also called zygomycosis.

This fungal infection affects humans when their immunity system is weak. The infection affects the lungs and the sinuses. The fungus can also enter the body through open wounds or cuts.

Mucormycosis or ‘black fungus’ infection, being found in COVID-19 patients with uncontrolled diabetes and prolonged intensive care unit (ICU) stay, may turn fatal if uncared for, the Centre said on Sunday.

The healthcare experts also added that this fungal infection mainly affects people who are on medication, reducing their ability to fight environmental pathogens and causes the most harm in turn.

The Press Investigation Bureau (PIB) also issued a number of infographics for the welfare of the public. While sharing the infographics on its official Twitter handle, PIB wrote, “How to reduce the risk of Mucormycosis?”

“Mucormycosis, if uncared for, may turn fatal. Sinuses or lungs of such individuals get affected after fungal spores are inhaled from the air,” health department had said earlier.

The infographic stated that the symptoms of mucormycosis include pain and redness around the eyes and nose, fever, headache, coughing, shortness of breath, bloody vomits and altered mental status, the advisory stated.

“This disease is not new, but it is rising among COVID-19 patients in India because the excessive use of steroids elevates sugar levels and some medicines suppress the immunity of these patients leading to loss of vision and death in some cases. The Black Fungus infects a COVID-19 patient easily. If it reaches the brain, it can prove fatal,” says Dr Lahane, who has treated a number of patients suffering from black fungus.

Here are the list of do’s:

– Control hyperglycemia

– Monitor blood glucose level post-COVID-19 discharge and also in diabetics

– Use steroid judiciously – correct timing, correct dose and duration

– Use clean, sterile water for humidifiers during oxygen therapy

– Use antibiotics/antifungals judiciously

Here are the list of don’ts:

– Do not miss warning signs and symptoms

– Do not consider all the cases with blocked nose as cases of bacterial sinusitis, particularly in the context of immunosuppression and/or COVID-19 patients on immunomodulators

– Do not hesitate to seek aggressive investigations, as appropriate (KOH staining & microscopy, culture, MALDITOF), for detecting fungal etiology

– Do not lose crucial time to initiate treatment for mucormycosis

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