India sees a spike in 'Black Fungus' infection cases
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Covid cases in India have given it one of the highest case rates in the world, with now 23.3 million total infections and rising. Hundreds of thousands of cases per day have left hospitals at breaking point, with health officials struggling to allocate space. And some of those suffering from Covid or in recovery have experienced an unusual comorbidity; black mould.
What is Covid-related black mould?
Most people know black mould as a nuisance in moisture-rich parts of the home, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
While it is toxic and poses health problems with prolonged exposure, Covid-associated black mould is a different beast, and much more dangerous.
Authorities dealing with Covid cases in India have identified cases of a rare fungus known as mucormycosis, which has a high mortality rate.
Mucormycosis is part of the mucormycetes family, which lives in several different environments.
Some of its common breeding grounds include earth and plants in most countries.
Most people’s immune systems can ward off the invading organism, but some aren’t as well equipped.
Peter Collignon, a member of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) committee on antibiotic resistance and infectious diseases, said doctors find the fungus tricky to treat.
He said the mould often requires “surgery and lots of drugs” once it invades the body and establishes a presence.
The mould is part of a “family” of fungus which invades and lingers in the sinuses, he said.
Mr Collignon added: “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.”
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“You can also get the fungal infections in places where there’s a lot of earth-moving building work going on because it stirs up a lot of dust in the area.”
Vulnerable patients may contract the fungus through hospital apparatus and struggle to overcome its effects.
Those with diabetes have a high risk of contracting the organism.
India is a “global hub” for the disease, with the second-highest number of diabetes cases worldwide.
What are the symptoms of mucormycosis?
According to the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) in the US, mucormycosis symptoms include:
- Facial swelling on one side
- Nasal or sinus congestion
- Black lesions on nasal bridge or upper inside of the mouth that quickly become more severe
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