Mucormycosis and COVID 19, Are they related?
The world has seen a sudden rise in the Mucormycosis cases. This has left questions to people whether COVID 19 and Mucormycosis (Black Fungus) are related. Through this article, we aim to educate you about the same.
What is Mucormycosis?
Mucormycosis is a very rare fungal infection. It is caused by exposure to mucor mold, commonly found in soil, plants, manure, and decaying fruits and vegetables. It is ubiquitous and found in soil and air and even in the nose and mucus of people.
How does this fungal infection affect people?
It affects the sinuses, the brain, and the lungs and can be life-threatening in severely immunocompromised individuals, such as cancer patients or people with HIV/AIDS. Doctors believe mucormycosis, which has an overall mortality rate of 50%, maybe being triggered by the use of steroids, a life-saving treatment for severe and critically ill Covid-19 patients.
Why is Mucormycosis dominant in people suffering from COVID 19?
When a person is suffering from COVID 19, their immune system is completely shattered. This is when fungi that are otherwise harmless take advantage and invade human tissues. These are called opportunistic infections. It's quite obvious that this drop in immunity could be triggering these cases of mucormycosis.
Research on this fungus-
Experiments with rats and rabbits have found that the inhaled spores in healthy animals are quickly killed by white blood cells. But if the host’s immune response has been suppressed, the body produces fewer white blood cells. In this condition, the spores germinate and grow rapidly as thin, wire-like tubes that branch out and enter the blood vessels and kill them.
Doctor’s stated there were around 40 patients suffering from the fungal infection in April. Most of their patients arrive late, when they are already losing vision, and doctors have to surgically remove the eye to stop the infection from reaching the brain. In some cases, doctors in India say, patients, have lost their vision in both eyes. And in rare cases, doctors have to surgically remove the jaw bone in order to stop the disease from spreading.
Symptoms of Mucormycosis-
When Mucor attacks the sinuses, it spreads to the lungs, the brain, and the central nervous system. Patients suffering from the fungal infection typically have symptoms of fever, headache, stuffy and bleeding nose; swelling of and pain in the eye; drooping of eyelids; and blurred and finally, loss of vision. There could be black patches of skin around the nose., and shortness of breath. Doctors can diagnose it through a tissue biopsy and an X-ray scan of the lungs.
How to keep ourselves safe?
This said we can follow a few simple steps to lower our risk of contracting mucormycosis:
- Educate society about the disease.
- We must periodically sample the air in hospitals, especially in the critical care wards, to
- We need to ensure that the humidifiers used during oxygen therapy are sterile.
- Recovering patients should be advised to remain indoors until they regain their natural strength and immunity.
- Patients engaged in farming or gardening should be advised to lay off from work until the crisis has settled.