What is Mucormycosis and why is it so dangerous?
Mucormycosis is a fungal infection. It is rare but serious infection caused by a group of moulds which live in the environment called micromycetes. Also known as 'black fungus', it is not any new infection but the number of cases has increased due to Covid-19.
This fungal infection mainly affects people who are taking or recently took medicines that compromise our immune system and ability to fight germs etc.
Recently it is being seen among Covid patients who were administered steroids to treat symptoms, and particularly among those who are suffering from diabetes and cancer. There are strong links between diabetes and infection. Covid-19 has a tendency to worsen diabetes and also precipitate diabetes in previously normal individuals hence diabetic patients are at the highest risk.
Sinuses or the lungs are the most commonly affected parts after inhaling fungal spores from the air. Although it can occur in nearly any part of the body. It can affect the face, infecting nose, orbit of eye, or brain, which can cause even vision loss.
For Black Fungus, the “high risk” Covid patients are:
· Patients with uncontrolled diabetes, diabetic ketoacidosis, and diabetics on steroids or tocilizumab
· Patients on immunosuppressants or anticancer treatment, and patients with a chronic debilitating illness
· Patients on high dose steroids and/or long duration of steroids or tocilizumab
· Severe Covid cases
· Patients on oxygen support—nasal prongs, by mask, or on a ventilator
What patients or caretakers should look for?
Mucormycosis has a typical set of symptoms:
· Abnormal black discharge or crusty dryness, or bleeding from the nose
· Nasal blockage
· Headache or eye pain
· Swelling around the eyes, double vision, redness of the eye, loss of vision, difficulty in the closing eye, inability to open the eye, prominence of the eye
· Facial numbness or tingling sensation, difficulty in chewing or opening the mouth
Nose and sinuses showing mucor infection are the relatively early stages of the infection, and timely detection at this stage can enable early treatment and minimize complications.
At the moderately advanced stage comes the Eye/Orbital mucor infection.
Intracranial infection is considered a very advanced disease when cavernous sinuses are involved and cranial nerve palsies occur.
Mortality rate of mucormycosis all over the world is 46% and for orbital and brain extension it is 60% to 80%.
Hence high risks patients are advised to consult ENT to ensure detection of Mucormycosis / Black Fungus at early stage to reduce the mortality.