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According to the latest reports, India has 11,717 Black Fungus 0r Mucormycosis cases among patients recovering from COVID-19, and the numbers continue to grow . Gujarat, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have reported the maximum number of cases, and the Health Ministry has declared Black Fungus as an epidemic.
Apart from Black Fungus, India's one of the most populous states, Uttar Pradesh has also reported White and Yellow Fungus cases, out of which the latter is said to be the most dangerous of the three .
So, how are these fungal infections different? What are the symptoms? Does it affect you differently? Let's take a look.
1. What Is Black Fungus?
Mucormycosis, also known as Black Fungus, can turn dangerous if left untreated. Mucormycosis, previously called zygomycosis, is a severe fungal infection caused by a group of moulds called micromycetes. While there has been an outbreak of the disease in COVID-19 patients, Black Fungus infection was prevalent even before the pandemic. Cancer patients and severe diabetics are prone to it .
The deadly infection is also termed as Black Death and Zombie disease. Still, it has been disregarded by the medical fraternity as many health experts and doctors assert that such terms may cause misunderstandings between the patients, their families, and the public and is not respectful to the person affected by it .
The fungi causing the Black Fungus infection are ‘angioinvasive'. They invade the surrounding blood vessels and destroy them, resulting in tissue necrosis and death. The disease is not contagious and doesn't spread from one person to another.
Types Of Black Fungus
Mucormycosis is of three types. The most common type of mucormycosis is the one that affects the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses; the other kind of mucormycosis is the one that affects the lungs, causing pulmonary mucormycosis. And the third type is gastrointestinal mucormycosis .
Symptoms Of Black Fungus
The primary symptom of this fungal infection is a respiratory or skin infection. Related respiratory infection symptoms may include cough, fever, headache, nasal congestion, and sinus pain.
The symptoms specific to COVID-19 triggered mucormycosis are face numbness, one-side nose obstructions or swelling of eyes, or pain.
In the case of a skin infection, the symptoms will arise at the site of skin trauma (injury/cut) and can quickly spread to another area . A skin infection associated with the deadly function infection can cause fever, blisters, swelling, ulcers, skin tenderness, blackened skin tissue and redness.
Who Is At Risk Of Black Fungus?
Most diabetic patients suffering from COVID-19, who are being given steroids, have a high chance of developing the Black Fungus infection . While steroids are essential to control the inflammation in the lungs, it severely affects the patients' immunity. It increases the blood sugar levels in both people with diabetes and non-diabetic COVID-19 patients.
Treatment For Black Fungus
Over 50-per cent of COVID-19 patients have reported a loss of eyesight, and there has been a need for nose and jawbone removal to prevent the spread of the infection to other parts of the body.
Medical management with anti-fungal drugs, namely injection Liposomal amphotericin-B (Ampho B), is currently treating the Black Fungus infection.
2. What Is White Fungus?
White Fungus comes from the Candida group . White Fungus infection can be caused due to low immunity or if people come in contact with things that contain these moulds like water, etc. For example, unfiltered/ tap water in humidifiers/ oxygen cylinders can make patients susceptible to getting White Fungus infection symptoms. It is medically termed Aspergillus Flavus infection.
White Fungus infection is not contagious; however, an individual can be vulnerable to the infection since a patient can easily inhale these moulds. After inhalation, the moulds can spread to vital organs and cause complications.
White Fungus Infection Is Common In Rural Areas
A head doctor at a prominent hospital in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, had stated that the hospital gets five White Fungus cases every month. It is common in rural areas as it is carried by dust, hay or other such particles .
White Fungus infection is not a new disease, nor is it as fatal as mucormycosis.
Symptoms Of White Fungus
White Fungus can affect the lungs and other parts of the body, including nails, skin, stomach, kidney, brain, genitals, and mouth. The infection can be diagnosed through CT-Scan or X-ray.
Who Is At Risk Of White Fungus?
Like Black Fungus, this infection too is more likely to affect people with compromised immune systems, pre-existing medical conditions, cancer, AIDS, a recent kidney transplant or diabetes.
Individuals who are on high oxygen support are also at the risk of getting the White Fungus infection. Doctors also added that the White Fungus infection might be risky for pregnant women and children.
Treatment Of White Fungus
Patients with White Fungus infection are currently being treated with anti-fungal medication. All four cases were in stable condition, with no other states have reported cases of the disease yet.
3. What Is Yellow Fungus?
Recent reports have shown that Vadodara has reported eight cases of a new fungal infection called aspergillosis or the Yellow Fungus infection . Like the Black Fungus, aspergillosis infection is seen in people who have recently recovered from COVID-19 and is said to be more life-threatening than the latter two fungal infections.
Everyday exposure to the Yellow Fungus (aspergillus) is rarely a problem for people with healthy immune systems. When the mould spores are inhaled, immune system cells surround and destroy them.
The fungus is predominantly found in reptiles .
Symptoms Of Yellow Fungus
While there are no clinical studies available now, the symptoms of Yellow Fungus infection, according to the case studies, are disrupted digestion, slow metabolism, unexplained-unusual weight loss, pus leakage, loss of appetite, sunken eyes, lack of energy, lethargy and fatigue, necrosis (in severe cases), slow healing of wounds and a more extended recovery period.
Who Is At Risk Of Yellow Fungus?
The Yellow Fungus infection is an infection is being observed in people who have compromised immunity. People who have a weakened immune system from illness or immunosuppressant medications have fewer infection-fighting cells, allowing the aspergillus to take hold, invading the lungs and other parts of the most severe cases of the body. Individuals with low white blood cell levels, lung cavities, asthma or cystic fibrosis are at risk too.
Aspergillosis or Yellow Fungus is not contagious from person to person. Sinus pulmonary aspergillosis, which is being observed in COVID patients, is rare .
What Are The Complications Of Yellow Fungus?
Depending on the type and severity of infection, the Yellow Fungus can cause bleeding in the lungs and systemic disease, spreading to other parts of your body, especially your brain, heart and kidneys. Studies have shown that invasive aspergillosis spreads rapidly and may be fatal .
Treatment Of Yellow Fungus
Similar to the other two infections, Yellow Fungus too can be prevented by following safe and hygienic medical practices and cleaning the surrounding areas and environment to prevent any moist build-up.
Anti-fungal medications are the primary approach to treating Yellow Fungus infection. The most effective treatment is a newer anti-fungal drug, voriconazole (Vfend). Amphotericin B is another option. In some severe cases where there is bleeding in the lungs, surgery is the primary treatment option .
How To Protect Yourself From The Black/White/Yellow Fungus?
These fungal infections are reported to impact COVID-19 patients with low immunity. To prevent black fungus, white fungus and yellow fungus infection in COVID-19 patients, doctors suggest better control of the sugar levels during the infection treatment with or without steroids, proper use of steroids at the correct time, correct dose and correct duration, and use of clean or sterile water for humidifiers during the oxygen therapy.
On A Final Note…
As per current understanding and case studies, Yellow Fungus stands out from Black and White Fungus because of the way it spreads. Since it spreads internally, it can cause severe internal damage and hence, more dangerous.
Doctors advise that people should seek treatment from the very beginning and prevent the case from becoming complicated.