Last Updated: 24th May, 2021
Mucormycosis (formerly known as zygomycosis) is an exceptionally rare infection commonly known as Black Fungus. Mucor mould, which is widely found in soil, vegetation, compost, and decaying vegetables and fruit, causes it. It’s everywhere, in the air and soil, including in healthy people’s noses and phlegm.
Physicians suspect that the administration of steroids, a life-saving treatment for severe and chronic conditions Covid-19 patients, may be triggering mucormycosis, and it has a 50% cumulative fatality rate.
What Is Mucormycosis Or Black Fungus?
Mucormycosis (formerly known as zygomycosis) is an exceptionally rare infection commonly known as Black Fungus. Mucormycetes, a type of mould, cause it, and it typically impacts the sinuses, lungs, skin, and brain. Mold spores can be inhaled or interact directly with them in soil, decomposing vegetables or bread and compost piles.
As previously stated, this infection, technically known as zygomycosis, is more likely to arise if you have compromised immunity due to a sickness or health condition. Getting treatment is absolutely essential. Mucormycosis can even be lethal if remain unattended.
Who Is In Threat?
The infection can happen to anyone at any age. Most people will come into contact with the fungus at some point in their routine lives. But you’re more likely to get sick if you sustain a weakened immune system because of a medication you’re taking or because you have a health condition like:
- Diabetes, especially when it isn’t under control
- HIV or AIDS
- Organ transplant
- Stem cell transplant
- Neutropenia (low white blood cell count)
- Long-term steroid use
- Injected drug use
- Elevated levels of iron in your body (hemochromatosis)
- Feeble health from inadequate nutrition
- Uneven levels of acid in your body (metabolic acidosis)
- Premature birth or low birth weight
It can be more probable if you have a burn, cut, or wound on your skin. Individuals with COVID-19 have also been documented to have cases.
Symptoms Of Mucormycosis
The symptoms of mucormycosis will depend on where in your body the black fungus is growing. They may include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath (Dyspnea)
- Swelling on one side of your face
- A headache
- Sinus congestion
- Black lesions on the bridge of your nose or the inside of your mouth
- Belly pain
- Nausea and vomiting (Hematemesis)
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Blood in your stool
If your skin is infected, the area can look blistered, red, or swollen. It might turn black or feel temperate or distressing.
The infection can equally spread to other parts of your body through your blood. This is termed disseminated mucormycosis. When this happens, the black fungus can affect organs like your spleen and heart. In severe cases, you may have changes to your mental state or go into a coma. It can even be fatal.
Mucormycosis Diagnosis And Treatment
If you suspect mucormycosis, your doctor will administer to you a physical exam and ask about your medical history. Allow them to know if you’ve been around spoiled foods or other places in which fungal spores are frequently found.
If it looks like you have a lung or sinus infection, your doctor may take a sample of the fluid from your nose or throat and consign it to be tested in a lab. They might in addition do a tissue biopsy, taking out a slight piece of infected tissue for testing.
Your doctor may carry out imaging tests like CT or MRI scans to find out whether the infection has spread to your brain or other organs. If you’re diagnosed with mucormycosis, you must initiate treatment as soon as possible with prescription antifungal medications. These medicines restrict the growth of the black fungus, impair it, and bring the infection under control.
You might take:
You receive these medications through a vein (intravenous or IV) or as pills that you swallow. Your doctor may start with massive doses through an IV until the infection is under control, which can require several weeks. Subsequently, you’ll switch to pills.
Allow your doctor know if a medication causes troublesome side effects like stomach pain, heartburn, or trouble breathing. They may be apt to change your treatment plan.
In severe cases, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove infected or dead tissue to prevent the black fungus from spreading. This might include removing parts of your nose or eyes. It can be disfiguring. But it’s crucial to resist this lethal infection.
Mucormycosis Complications And Outlook
Complications of mucormycosis include:
- Blood clots or blocked vessels
- Nerve damage
Mucormycosis can be deadly without treatment. Because the infection is so rare, the exact mortality rate isn’t clear. But researchers estimate that overall, 54% of people with mucormycosis die. The likelihood of death depends on which part of the body is affected. The outlook is pleasanter for people who have sinus infections than it is for lung or brain infections.
There’s no way to obstruct breathing in spores. But you can carry out a few things to lower your chances of mucormycosis. It’s supremely significant if you have a health condition that elevates your risk.
- Stay away from areas with a lot of dust or soil, like construction or excavation sites. If you have to be in these areas, wear a face mask like an N95.
- Keep away from infected water. This can include floodwater or water-damaged buildings, especially after inevitable disasters like hurricanes or floods.
- If you demonstrate a weakened immune system, inhibit activities that involve dust and soil, like gardening or yard work. If you can’t, protect your skin with shoes, gloves, long pants, and long sleeves. Wash cuts or scrapes with soap and water as soon as you can.
If you develop mucormycosis, make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions and take your meds as prescribed. If adverse symptoms persist or the infection does not improve, speak to your doctor here and immediately.