With the world reeling under the throes of SARS CoV 2(COVID-19), we are now dealing with ‘Black Fungus’ or medically ‘Mucormycosis’.
The black fungus can occur at any time after the COVID-19 infection, either during the stay in the hospital or after days or weeks post-discharge. Medications like steroids increase blood sugar and a broad spectrum of antibiotics not only wipe out the pathogenic bacteria but also protective commensals. Long-term hypoxia reduces immunity and there are speculations of the fungus being transmitted by the humidified oxygen. All these make a perfect recipe for the infection.
Nasal blockage, bleeding, discharge from the nose are initial features of mucormycosis. As the disease progresses the palate may be destroyed as a large black necrotic mass may be seen on opening the mouth. When the orbit is involved there will be protrusion of the eyeball, loss of movements of the eyeball with consequent double vision. Eye pain redness with blindness can follow.
If the brain is invaded due to the blockage in the blood vessels there can be strokes, hemorrhage, and even death. MRI and CT scans give a clear picture of the presence of the lesion along with its extent.
The infection can affect lungs with similar features of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc) making the clinical diagnosis difficult. CT scans and Bronchoscopy (Endoscopy of lungs) will be helpful.
How to prevent it?
- Maintenance of good hygiene and cleanliness including oral hygiene
- Use sterile water for humidification while administering oxygen
- Usage of steroid must be limited with good blood sugar control
- Rational use of a broad spectrum of antibiotics
- Wear an N-95 mask while going out
- Avoid visits to construction areas, soil, plants, and the areas that abound with organic waste
Seek immediate help if a patient recovering or recovered from COVID-19 develops sinus headache, facial pain, stuffy nose, bloody nasal discharge, blackish discoloration over nose or palate, eye pain, swelling, double vision, tooth pain, seizure, limb weakness.
Early diagnosis and aggressive treatment are paramount for improving outcomes. TOGETHER WE CAN DEFINITELY WIN THIS BATTLE AGAINST COVID-19 AND BLACK FUNGUS.