A man walks past burning pyres with people who died from COVID-19, on the banks of the river Ganges at Garhmukteshwar in the Northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
A man walks past burning pyres with people who died from COVID-19, on the banks of the river Ganges at Garhmukteshwar in the Northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Rare black fungus being found in Covid-19 patients in India

By Rudolph Nkgadima Time of article published May 11, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - India is experiencing one of the worst Covid-19 outbreaks in the world; recording nearly 370,000 daily infections and more than 3,700 new deaths.

The surge has caused some hospitals to run out of oxygen, and crematoriums have been overwhelmed with bodies.

In the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, the country is now seeing a surge of “black fungus” infections among Covid-19 patients and survivors.

According to health experts Mucormycosis, also called black fungus, is a rare infection caused by exposure to mucor mould found in soil, plants, manure and decaying fruits and vegetables.

This infection usually affects the lungs, nasal tract and sinus of the patient and has a fatality rate of 50 percent. The disease can also lead to blackening or discolouration of the nose, blurred or double vision, chest pain and breathing difficulties.

Prof Peter Collignon, an expert on antibiotic resistance and infectious diseases says the fungus is very serious, has a high mortality, and requires surgery and lots of drugs to get on top of it once it takes hold.

“They’re a family of fungus that gets into your sinuses and deposits there, and they can get into the air spaces in your head. And when your immune system can’t keep them under control they invade the base of your brain where it becomes a real problem, and really very serious,” he said.

While the deadly fungus is less likely to get transmitted from one person to another, doctors say that it is exacerbated by steroids, such as dexamethasone, used to treat severe Covid-19.

Indian government officials have also asked doctors to be on the lookout for symptoms of mucormycosis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, early symptoms include:

  • One-sided facial swelling
  • Headache
  • Nasal or sinus congestion
  • Fever

Symptoms can escalate to:

  • Blackening of the nose
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Chest pain
  • Breathing difficulties

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