The massive second wave of coronavirus infection in India has been more testing than the previous one. To add challenge to already overburdened India’s healthcare system, severe and deadly fungal infections, namely black fungus, white fungus and yellow fungus is now creating havoc and rising health threat.
Over the past few weeks, India has witnessed a sharp rise in the number of fungal infection. To date, more than 9000 cases of Fungal infections have been reported. Several states have declared black fungus as an epidemic.
What Is Black Fungus, White Fungus And Yellow Fungus
In general, fungal infections do not hit individuals whose immune system is equipped enough to fight the pathogen. However, those with compromised immunity are more susceptible to the associated risks and complications. in India, Three types of fungal infections, namely black fungus, white fungus and yellow fungus, have been reported. According to the experts, these deadly fungal infections are not new or rare diseases and can even be detected in patients without covid-19. In general, fungal infections do not hit individuals whose immune system is equipped enough to fight the pathogen. However, those with compromised immunity are more susceptible to the associated risks and complications. Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, excess use of steroid, antibiotics, and other medications to treat severe covid-19 patients, comorbidities particularly diabetes, weak immune system and poor sanitary conditions at hospitals treating COVID patients is attributed to the rise in life-threatening fungal infections. In addition, the high mortality rate, the proportion of people affected, and shortage of antifungal medications makes black fungus, white fungus and yellow fungus scary and worrisome.
Let us understand these fungal infections in detail.
What Is Back Fungus Disease?
Black fungus disease or Mucormycosis is declared an epidemic in many states of India. Black fungus is not new and is a common cause of death in patients undergoing transplants or in ICU, particularly those with immunodeficiency. In Covid-19 patients rise in black fungus has been observed.
What Causes Black Fungus?
Mucormycosis is caused by mucormycetes or molds, particularly found in decaying organic matter and soil. A person can get infected with black fungus by contacting or inhaling the spores from the environment. Skin infection is also possible if the fungus enters the skin through skin injuries such as burn or cut.
What Are The Symptoms Of Black Fungus?
The symptoms of Mucormycosis includes:
- Sinus or Nasal congestion
- One-sided facial swelling
- Black lesions on upper inside of the mouth or nasal bridge or
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal pain
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
What Is White Fungus Infection?
Not much is known about White fungus. During detailed investigation Doctor S.N. Singh, the Head of the Microbiology at PMCH confirmed cases of white fungus in patients who should Covid-19 symptoms but tested negative. The administration of antifungal medicine showed improvement in in their condition.
What Causes White Fungus?
White fungus contracts on coming in contact with things that contain spores such as water or hay.
What Are The Symptoms Of White Fungus?
- Whitening of tongue
- Dark spots on lungs
- Reduced oxygen
What Is Yellow Fungus Infection?
In India, the first case of yellow infection fungus infection was reported on May 24, 2021, in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. According to the experts, yellow fungus is more dangerous than white and black fungus. It is fatal as the disease grows internally.
What Causes Yellow Fungus In Humans?
Yellow fungal infection is mainly found in reptiles. An unclean and humid environment is appropriate for the growth of yellow fungus. In humans, unsanitary environmental conditions, high humidity, and consumption of unhygienic food cause yellow fungus.
What Are The Symptoms Of Yellow Fungus Infection
The symptoms of yellow fungus include:
- Slow healing of wounds
- Weight loss
- Extreme lethargy
- Decrease or no appetite
- Pus leakage
- Internal bleeding
- Organs failure
- In worst cases necrosis
What Is Nasal Aspergillosis
Besides white, black and yellow fungus recently, cases of nasal aspergillus have also have been reported. Pulmonary aspergillosis infection is observed in immunocompromised patients or after over use of steroids in the treatment of Covid-19 or by using non-sterile water for hydrating oxygen supplies. Although aspergillosis is not deadly it may be fatal if not treated timely. The fungus is very commonly found in environment and inhaled. In otherwise healthy individuals, it do not cause any infection but in immunocompromised and patients with lung diseases, it develops allergic reactions and lung infections. In severe cases, the infection may spread to blood vessels and prove to be fatal.
Symptoms And Treatment Of Nasal Aspergillosis
The initial symptoms of aspergillosis includes fever and chill that lasts for 4-5 days in mild cases. If infection spreads to lungs, it starts damaging the lung tissues making it difficult for the person to breath. As the infection proceeds, it causes persistent cough, coughing with blood, headache, fatigue, eye symptoms and skin lesions such as blisters, irritation and redness. Treatment of aspergillosis is as same as black fungus, white fungus and yellow fungus. However, if infection spreads to other organs surgery is the only available option.
What Is The Treatment Of Black Fungus, White Fungus and Yellow Fungus?
The primary treatment of black fungus, white fungus and yellow fungus is antifungal infection Amphotericin-B.
It is imperative to recognise the early symptoms and report the fungal infections in their initial stage for successful treatment. Yellow fungus is more dangerous and may take a longer time than black fungus or white fungus.
Can You Prevent Black Fungus, White Fungus And Yellow Fungus?
According to the experts, fungal infections are not contagious and cannot be spread from person to person or from animals to humans. However, it can spread from fungal spores present in the environment and air, which is almost impossible to avoid. Fungus and bacteria are already present in our body still; our immune system keeps them under check. However, when our immune system goes down due to overuse of steroids, immuno-suppressants, comorbidities or cancer treatment, these organisms get a perfect environment to multiply. The second wave of coronavirus infection has created a perfect environment for black fungus, white fungus and yellow fungus owing to low oxygen level, uncontrolled diabetes and commodity, excessive steroid and high intake of iron and zinc level along with lack of hygiene and prolonged hospitalization. Dr Nishant Kumar, an ophthalmologist at Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai, says, “There is lots of contamination in the pipes used for oxygen and the cylinders that are being used”. Thus, if you are on a ventilator and have been on tubes and oxygen for a long time in hospital, fungal infections get in.
According to Doctor Randeep Guleria, Director, AIIMS, Delhi, specific preventive tips can prevent the onset of fungal infections in Covid-19 patients.
Tips To Prevent Fungal Infections In Covid-19 Patients
- Judicious use of steroids. Avoid self-medication. Take the medicines in the prescribed doses by your physician. Avoid unnecessary antibiotics and antifungal medications.
- Managing the blood sugar level among Covid-19 patients to manage the infection.
- Using a mask while dusting, sweeping or sitting in a dusty environment or even open air.
- Remove all the stale food and faecal matter to avoid fungal growth.
- Keep the surrounding clean and sanitized.
- Check the humidity level in the surroundings as excessive humidity promotes bacterial and fungal growth. If you or your family member is hospitalized, make sure that the hospital staff cleans the tubes every 6 hours and the hospital takes all necessary hygiene measures.
- Maintain oral hygiene with povidone-iodine gargles.
- Use sterile water for humidification while on oxygen concentrators. Make sure there is no leakage from humidifier.
- Maintain nasal hygiene.
- After Covid-19 recovery, stay indoor as much as possible for one and half months and especially avoid fields, grounds, garden and construction sites. If you need to go outside, use surgical masks and rubber gloves.
The preventive measures are also to be taken by the patients recovered from Covid-19 for at least 3 to 4 weeks, mainly if they had moderate to severe infection and are diabetic, were on tubes and oxygen for long and were given a high dose of steroids.
The best you can do to keep yourself healthy and prevent black fungus, white fungus and yellow fungus complications is to stay aware of any changes in your health due to covid-19 and stay in touch with your health care provider.