With the rise in cases of 'Black Fungus,' or Mucormycosis, there's a lot of confusion on what is causing the disease, what are the signs we need to worry about, and who is more vulnerable to the disease.
Black fungal infection can spread rapidly, and if not treated on time, it can lead to death in some cases.
Public health expert Dr Mathew Varghese breaks it down for us.
Why are we seeing a rise in cases of ‘Black Fungus’ during the 2nd surge?
Dr Mathew Varghese: During the treatment of COVID-19, we eliminated natural bacteria and immunity by giving antibiotics and steroids to patients. It proved to be a dangerous combination for diabetes patients.
Black fungus can be treated in time, but after it affects the eye and brain, it becomes difficult to control.
What are the symptoms of black fungus?
Dr Mathew Varghese: Watch out for black or brown discharge from the nose, this causes nose blocks, leading to swelling on the cheeks and eyes.
If there is swelling on the eye, there is already some delay that has happened in treatment. Therefore, we should be careful and seek help before swelling on the eye occurs.
Symptoms of black fungus may also emerge a few days after COVID treatment. At the same time, hospitalised patients on ventilators are also prone to black fungus.
If you recognise and catch its symptoms quickly, then it is treatable, otherwise it may lead to death.
Who is more susceptible to black fungus?
Dr Mathew Varghese: Fungi and mildew live in the environment, and if there is heat and humidity, mildew increases. You must have often seen that fungus starts to appear on the bread sometimes.
The risk of black fungus is usually higher for diabetics, those who have taken frequent antibiotics, and it is more likely to be found in cancer patients and patients who’ve undergone a transplant.
Why are we seeing a rise in fungal infections during COVID?
Dr Mathew Varghese: Diabetics are more prone to serious COVID disease. At the same time, taking antibiotics indiscriminately has also increased the risk of fungal infections. This is because antibiotics kill the good or natural bacteria present in the body along with harmful bacteria, giving fungi an environment to grow unabated.
There is also a possibility of fungus growing due to decreased immunity.
Besides, the indiscriminate use of steroids reduces disease immunity and increases the risk of black fungus.