A new rare disease known as mucormycosis or Black Fungus is spreading across India which the doctors say is a COVID-19 triggered disease and has a 50 per cent mortality rate. There are reports of cases of mucormycosis being recorded in Delhi, Mumbai, and Ahemdabad. About 9 of the infected persons have died in Ahmedabad and hundreds of cases have been reported in the country. The disease potentially causes eyesight and jaw bone loss in the patients.
Mucormycosis (previously known as zygomycosis) develops when the fungus comes in contact with damaged skin or mucosa and infects a person who has low immunity. In simple words, the fungus invades the cells of people with weakened immune systems and causes mucormycosis. As per the doctors, the symptoms include continued blockage of nose, black dry crusts in the nose, numbness of the cheeks, eye redness, eye pain and eye twitch. The infection usually starts from the nose (sinuses or the lungs) and spreads to the eyes. While a quick diagnosis and treatment can cure the patient, left untreated, it can prove fatal.
There are between 50 and 100 species of the Mucorales fungus, as per a study published in 2016 by the scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. ” Patients whose immune systems are not working properly are especially at risk. This group includes patients with diabetes, people who have recently undergone transplants or who have suffered wounds. In addition to soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, the fungal infections also appeared in some patients hurt in the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia and the tornadoes that occurred in Joplin, Missouri, in 2011,” states the study.
As per the National Center for Biotechnology Information (United States), SARS-CoV-2, directly and indirectly, affects the immune system and avoids being eliminated in early stages. COVID-19 causes secondary infections, both bacterial and fungal, probably due to the weakening of immunity. Cases of COVID induced Mucormycosis has been recorded in other countries too but in India, it appears to be turning into an epidemic. Most COVID induced Mucormycosis cases also have diabetes. India has 8.9% of adults or 77 million citizens who suffer from type 2 diabetes.
In India, Mucormycosis has been found in some cases of non-COVID patients but most of the infections are found in recovering COVID-19 patients.
Mucorales is known to resist most of the available antifungal drugs. “There are no vaccines or effective therapies available today to halt the highly fatal mucormycosis infection,” said Dr Ashraf S. Ibrahim, who was the lead author of the study conducted in the University of Maryland School of Medicine.