Mucormycosis aka Black Fungus- What You Must Know About It

By Senior Consultant Physician Dr K Raghavan

Mucormycosis is an acute opportunistic infection by fungi belonging to the phylum- Glomeromycota. These saprophyte fungi are present ubiquitously in the soil and environment.

These apparently innocuous microorganisms take on an invasive aggressive role and get transformed into deadly pathogens in a p3erson where the immune system (defence mechanism) is compromised.

Before the advent of Covid-19 infection cases of Mucor Mycosis were encountered in certain cases such as patients diagnosed with cancer or diabetes but it has been in the news lately for its incidence in patients diagnosed positive with Covid-19 or who have just recovered from it. The virus invades the nasal mucosa, sinuses, orbit and the brain (Rhine- Orbital-Cerebral-Mucormycosis ROCM).

Warning signs you must watch out for: 

  • Nasal stuffiness
  • Foul smelling nasal discharge
  • Bleeding from the nose
  • Facial swelling on one side
  • Double vision, red eyes and restriction of eye movement
  • Blackish discolouration over the  nose bridge
  • Prolonged fever, headaches, altered mental status

mucormycosis

Prevention:

  1. Emphasis should be on the prevention of this potentially life-threatening disfiguring and deadly disease.
  2. Meticulous control of blood sugar levels round the clock. Insulin is often very helpful at the earliest sign of infection
  3. The timing, dose and duration of steroids to be planned and executed precisely. If hospitalised patients require steroid therapy, the dose should be limited to Dexamethasone 0.1mg/kg/day for 5-10 days/
  4. Steroids should not be commenced early in the course of covid-19 illness.
  5. In the outpatient management of a stable patient if there is no decline in the oxygen saturation steroids may not be necessary.
  6. Maintenance of scrupulous personal hygiene during the course of the illness.
  7. Oxygen delivery devices may be a source of contamination and adequate aseptic procedures should be taken.
  8. Optimal nutrition help with the basic immunity to fight diseases.