Black fungus or mucormycosis (zygomycosis) is a serious but rare fungal infection that some media call “black death” or “zombie disease”. It seems that with the outbreak of coronavirus, the incidence of black fungus has increased in some countries such as India. For this reason, in this article, we will learn more about black fungus disease and its symptoms and complications. Stay with us until the end of the article.
What is mucormycosis?
Black fungus or mucomycosis (zygomycosis) is a serious but rare fungal infection caused by a group of molds called mucocysts. These molds live in any environment, including soil, decaying organic matter (such as leaves, compost, and rotten wood). The prevalence of black fungus is higher in summer and autumn than in winter and spring. Rhizopus and Mucor are the most common fungal species that cause mucormycosis.
The disease usually enters the body after inhaling fungal spores in the air and affects the sinuses or lungs. However, in people who do not have a weak immune system, the fungus can enter the skin through cuts, burns or various injuries and cause cutaneous mucormycosis.
Types of black mushrooms
Depending on which part of the body mucormycosis affects, it is divided into different types.
- Pulmonary mucormycosis: It is more common in people with cancer and people with a transplanted organ or transplanted stem cell.
- Gastrointestinal mucormycosis: It is more common in children, especially low birth weight preterm infants, who use antibiotics than in adults.
- Rhinocerebral mucormycosis (sinus and brain): The infection develops in the sinuses and spreads to the brain. This form of black fungus is more common in people with uncontrolled diabetes and people with transplanted kidneys.
- Cutaneous mucormycosis: Occurs when the fungus enters the body through skin lesions (injuries, burns or various types of skin damage). This type of black fungus is more common in people whose immune systems are not weak.
- Published Mucormycosis: Occurs when the infection spreads through the bloodstream and affects another part of the body. This infection mostly affects the brain; But it can affect other areas, including the spleen, heart and skin.
Symptoms of black fungus
The symptoms and mortality rate of mucormycosis vary depending on the type. Talk to your doctor if you think your symptoms are related to mucormycosis.
Symptoms of sinus and brain mucormycosis
- Facial pain;
- Eye swelling;
- Unilateral swelling of the face;
- Nasal and sinus congestion;
- Black lesions on the bridge of the nose or above the lips that intensify rapidly.
Symptoms of pulmonary mucormycosis
- Shortness of breath;
- Chest pain;
- Bloody cough or with dark discharge.
Cutaneous mucormycosis resembles a blister or sore and the area of infection becomes black. Other symptoms of cutaneous mucormycosis include:
- the pain;
- the heat;
- High redness;
- Swelling around the wound.
Symptoms of renal mucormycosis
- Side pain.
Symptoms of gastrointestinal mucormycosis
- Abdominal pain;
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Gastrointestinal bleeding.
Symptoms of diffuse mucormycosis
It usually occurs in people who have had other illnesses; Therefore, it is difficult to diagnose the symptoms of mucormycosis. A diffuse infection in the brain can cause mood swings and coma. Other symptoms of diffuse mucormycosis include:
- Secondary bacterial infection;
- Sepsis or bloodstream infection.
Severe complications of mucormycosis
- Loss of body tissue due to infection and removal of damaged tissue;
- Defects in limb function;
- And death.
Correlation between black fungus outbreak in India
With the rise of coronary heart disease in India, the incidence of black fungus has also increased in this country. The use of steroid drugs is a common method of treating coronary artery disease in patients with low oxygen levels. Steroids, on the one hand, reduce inflammation and, on the other hand, reduce the body’s ability to fight infection. So that if the patient does not receive the right dose of steroids, he may develop other infectious diseases.
People with chronic diseases such as diabetes are more likely to get black fungus. Uncontrolled blood sugar in coronary heart disease and the use of high doses of steroids acidify the blood, which is a good environment for the growth of black fungus. Also, the lack of oxygen tanks and air conditioners and the use of old appliances may be another factor in the growth of black fungus in India.
Answers to 5 common questions about mucormycosis
1. Who gets mucormycosis?
Mucormycosis is a rare disease and is more common in people who have health problems or are taking medications that reduce the body’s ability to fight germs and disease. A certain group of people are more likely to develop mucormycosis, which can include the following conditions:
- Organ transplant;
- Stem cell transplantation;
- Taking injectable medicine;
- Excess iron in the body (hemochromatosis);
- Diabetes (especially ketoacidosis diabetes);
- Long-term use of corticosteroids;
- Neutropenia (decreased white blood cell count);
- Skin injury from surgery, fuel or wound;
- Premature birth or low birth weight (for neonatal gastrointestinal mucormycosis).
2. Is mucormycosis contagious?
No. Mucormycosis does not spread between humans or humans and animals.
3. How to reduce the risk of mucormycosis?
Because black fungus is so abundant in our environment, it is difficult to prevent fungal spores from breathing. Also, there is no vaccine to prevent mucormycosis. However, there are a few simple ways to reduce the risk of developing the disease, especially in people with weakened immune systems. The following are mentioned:
- Antifungal drugsIf you have conditions such as organ transplants or stem cell transplants that increase your chances of developing mucormycosis, your doctor may prescribe medication to prevent mucormycosis and other fungal infections. Of course, research in this area is still ongoing.
- Personal protectionAlthough this method is recommended, it does not prevent the disease.
- Avoid direct contact with buildings damaged by water and water flow caused by storms and natural disasters;
- Try to avoid areas with high pollution, such as areas under construction and drilling, or use a mask;
- Avoid activities such as gardening that involve direct contact with dirt or dust, or use protective equipment such as gloves and masks, and wash your face and hands thoroughly after work.
4. How is mucormycosis diagnosed?
When your doctor diagnoses mucormycosis, your medical examiner will look at your symptoms, physical exams, and lab results, and if black fungus is suspected, he or she may take a sample of your sinus, lung, or tissue fluid and send it to the lab. Or have a CT scan of your lungs, sinuses, or other suspicious parts of your body.
5. How is mucormycosis treated?
Treatment for black fungus should be quick and bold, because the patient may suffer from tissue damage at the time required to diagnose the disease, and this damage is irreversible. Most patients require both surgery and medication. To the extent that sometimes non-surgery may cause the death of the patient. Also, in some cases it is necessary to remove part of the healthy tissue around the damaged tissue; For example, in an eye infection, the whole eye needs to be removed.
How familiar were you with black fungus? Did this article provide you with any new information? Do you have any experience with black fungus disease? If you wish, you can write your experience or opinion to us in the “Send Comment” section. Also, you can easily send this article to your friends through social networks so that they can take more care of their health.