Guwahati: As panic gripped the state over the reported detection of black fungus amongst Covid19 patients, health experts from Assam said that black fungus can be treated if detected at an early stage.
It’s been reported across the country that many people recovering from Covid-19 have of late been afflicted by black fungus – or mucormycosis – disease. The fungus invades the sinus and makes its way into the intraorbital and intracranial regions. If its progression is not checked early, 50-80% of patients could die.
Speaking to TIME8 exclusively, Director of Medical Education, Anup Kumar Barman said, “In the Covid-19 cases so far reported in Assam and India, maximum patients were identified with comorbid conditions. And this fungal infection can be an additional one to them. A Covid-19 patient can get affected with this fungal infection from normal air. Especially when he or she is put on oxygen support, which has a humidifier containing water, the chances of him or her getting the fungal infection increases.”
When a patient whose immune system has been compromised inhales mucor spores, they may develop black fungus. This is a rare, non-contagious disease – but it can be debilitating or fatal if not treated quickly.
Research said that when mucor attacks the sinuses, it spreads to the lungs, the brain and the central nervous system. Common symptoms of the resulting mucormycosis include fever, headache, reddish and swollen skin near the nose or eyes, facial pain, cough producing bloody or dark fluids, and shortness of breath. Doctors can diagnose it through a tissue biopsy and an X-ray scan of the lungs.
“Black fungus is invasive fungal infection and lives in the environment, particularly in soil and in decaying organic matter. These fungal spores occur naturally and can enter the human body when they breathe in these fungal spores, especially the dust-laden air,” Barman added.
Apparently diabetic people, someone taking steroids, cancer patients, kidney patients, heart patients, people with chronic liver disease, organ transplant recipients including Covid-19 patients can get affected by this fungal infection.
“This fungal infection is not an uncommon disease amongst the immunocompromised patients and therefore, COVID-19 patients might get affected with this infection. It is curable only when it diagnosed in the early stage,” Barman said.
These spores attack the Nasopharynx – situated in the space between the back of the nose and soft palate. It affects the human ears and involves the central nervous system which can lead to a higher fatality rate in humans, informed Barman.
He also informed that anti-fungal infections are available and therefore it is curable.
However, Covid-19 patients who have received steroids are particularly at risk because steroids suppress the immune system. This is why steroids should not be used unless absolutely necessary.
Assam on Wednesday reportedly recorded its first death with black fungus infection at Apollo Hospital, Guwahati.
No official confirmation in this regard has been made from the concerned authority of Apollo Hospital.
The matter is under investigation, confirmed Apollo Hospital management to TIME8.