Are Farm Chickens Spreading Black Fungus? Viral Claim Lacks Proof
The viral image incorrectly states that mucormycosis, or black fungus, is spreading due to farm chickens.
An image claiming that black fungus, or mucormycosis, is spreading due to farm chickens is being widely shared on social media. The image contains a screenshot of an NDTV report showing a photograph of chickens. It reads ‘Punjab government has notified the poultry farm as an infected area’. It also asks people to refrain from eating farm chickens for a while to stay safe.
However, this is not true. There is no evidence to support that chicken causes mucormycosis. Further, the NDTV report used in the image was related to the detection of bird flu in a poultry farm in Punjab’s Ludhiana earlier this year in May, and not black fungus.
WHAT WE FOUND
We looked for more information on mucormycosis on the website of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The website mentioned that people get mucormycosis through contact with fungal spores in the environment.
“...the lung or sinus forms of the infection can occur after someone inhales the spores from the air. A skin infection can occur after the fungus enters the skin through a scrape, burn, or other type of skin injury.”Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
It further mentions that mucormycosis is not contagious, which means that it doesn’t “spread between people or between people and animals”.
We also checked the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) advisory, which mentions that mucormycosis is a fungal infection. It affects people on medication for other health problems, which reduces their ability to fight environmental pathogens.
The Quint reached out to health experts who confirmed that there was no evidence that Black Fungus was transmissible from animals to people.
Dr Sumit Ray, a critical care specialist at Delhi’s Holy Family Hospital, said that there was “no direct correlation” between the two.
“Mucormycosis is a fungus, which is in the form of what we call a mold. It is ubiquitous – present everywhere. In farms, there could be a possibility that it may be a little higher. But farms were always there, why weren’t mucormycosis infections there earlier? It has happened because of a certain setting. It has nothing to do with farm animals. It has to do with the setting of patients being on a high dose of steroids for a prolonged period of time because of COVID.”Dr Sumit Ray, Critical Care Specialist, Holy Family Hospital
He added that people with uncontrolled blood sugar were immunocompromised before the pandemic. When they were put on immunosuppressants or had any transplantation done, they were already prone to it.
He attributed the sudden surge to the combination of uncontrolled blood sugar and the use of steroids.
WHAT ABOUT THE NDTV REPORT?
The photo of an NDTV article used along with the claim could be traced to an article published on the English news channel’s website on 8 May 2021.
The report talks about bird flu in poultry farms in Ludhiana, Punjab, and not about Mucormycosis as the claim states.
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