Black Fungus or Mucormycosis- Types, Symptoms, Prevention & Risk Factors
Mucormycosis which is also known as black fungus (Previously called zygomycosis). It is rare but serious fungal disease. It is caused by group of molds called Mucormycosis. It affects through inhalation of fungal “spore”. This article tells you in detail about types, symptoms, prevention and risk factors of Mucormycosis or black fungus.
Mucormycosis is an uncommon life threatening fungal infection that occurs mostly in immuno-compromised or trauma patients. Agent of Mucormycosis have an intrinsic ability to invade blood vessels and can affect different parts of the body uncontrolled metabolic condition (especially diabetes mellitus in ketoacidosis) is the main risk factor .
Mucormycosis is rare fungal infection estimated to affect globally, although the incidence in India is much higher mostly affected individuals have poorly controlled diabetes and may have metabolic acidosis or are immunocompromised rare cases occur in immunocompromised individual following traumatic inoculating of fungal spores including tornadoes and bomb blast. The out break and cluster of mucormycosis have been reported in hospital and among organ transplant recipients/covid-19.
Agents of black fungus are ubiquitous and frequently airborne. This infections mainly involves the lungs, sinuses and the brain. Neutrophils play a central role in the defense of host against mucormycosis.
Types of Mucormycosis And Symptoms
- Rhino cerebral Mucormycosis
- Pulmonary Mucormycosis
- Gastrointestinal Mucormycosis
- Disseminated Mucormycosis
- Cutaneous Mucormycosis
The symptoms of Mucormycosis depend on where in the body the fungus is growing
1.Rhino cerebral Mucormycosis:
Symptoms of rhino cerebral (sinus and brain) mucormycosis include:
- Facial pain
- Unilateral headache
- Eye swelling
- Visual disturbance
- Necrotic lesions on the hard palate or nasal mucosa
- ENT Symptoms: nasal congestion , Black discharge, acute sinusitis
- Systemic symptoms – fever
2. Pulmonary Mucormycosis:
Pulmonary Mucormycosis (lung) the second most common presentation after Cerebro- Rhino-Orbital Mucormycosis mainly in non diabetic immunocompromised patients. Symptoms of pulmonary mucormycosis include:
- Chest pain increasing shortness of breath.
3. Cutaneous Mucormycosis:
Cutaneous Mucormycosis can look like ulcers and the infected area may turn black include pain , warmth, excessive redness or swelling around wounds.
4. Gastrointestinal mucormycosis
Symptoms of gastrointestinal mucormycosis includes:
- Low birth weight and premature infants protein energy malnutrition-at risk
5. Disseminated Mucormycosis:
Disseminated Mucormycosis mainly occurs when the infection spread through the blood stream to affect another part of body. It most commonly affects the brain but also can affect other organs such as the spleen, heart and skin.
Why are COVID-19 patients at risk (Black fungus):
Not all people who have contracted coronavirus infection and are on treatment for covid-19 obtain mucormycosis Certain individuals are more prone of getting affected by the fungal infection. People with diabetes mellitus who are unable to keep blood sugar levels within the normal range. Having a vulnerable immune system. Being treated in intensive care unit i.e. ICU for a prolonged interval of time. Indiscriminate steroid usage and high blood sugar levels are potentially responsible for driving an uptick in a rare fungal infection among vulnerable COVID-19 patients.
- Sinusitis-nasal blockade on congestion, nasal discharge
- Local pain on the cheek bone one side facial pain. numbness or swelling
- Chest pain
- Worsening of respiratory system
- Loosening of teeth, jaw involvement
- Blackish discoloration over bridge of nasal palate
Diagnosis & Testing
Healthcare providers consider your medical history, symptoms, physical examinations, and laboratory tests when diagnosing mucormycosis. They are no specific blood test to detect Mucormycosis. Mucormycosis in your lungs or sinuses might collect a sample of fluid from your respiratory system to send to a laboratory, biopsy. And also need imaging tests such as CT scan of lungs, sinus or other parts of body, depending on the location of the suspected infection.
The risk factors of mucormycosis include:
- Diabetes mellitus
- Long term use of steroids
- Organ or bone marrow transplantation
Wear Mask/face shield when going to dirty polluted environment such as construction sites. maintain hygiene. Fungal spores found in air can easily enter the body through the nose. This makes masking up doubly important, in preventing infection.
- Black fungus is a complication caused by a fungal infection. People catch mucormycosis by coming in contact with the fungal spores in the environment.
- It can also develop on the skin after the fungus enters the skin through a cut, scrape, burn, or other types of skin trauma.
- Mucormycosis is a fungal infection mostly found in patients with compromised immune systems.
- Controlling diabetes, less usage of steroids helps to manage mucormycosis.