1)Mucormycosis or black fungus is an aggressive and invasive fungal infection caused by a group of moulds called mucormycetes.These molds live throughout the environment.
Mucormycosis, also known as black fungus, is a rare but dangerous infection. . You can inhale the mold spores or come into contact with them in things like soil, rotting produce or bread, or compost piles. It is not contagious but can be fatal.
It is a serious fungal infection, usually in people with reduced ability to fight infections
It can affect many various organs but is currently manifesting as an invasive rhino- orbito- cerebral disease affecting the ear , nose , throat and mouth It can affect the sinuses, eye and brain resulting in a runny nose, one sided facial swelling and pain, headache, fever, blurred
vision, swollen and bulging eye, and tissue death.Other forms of disease may infect the lungs, stomach and intestines, and skin.
The common name ‘ black fungus ‘ is in reference to the blackening that is characterstic of the disease.
Types of fungi that cause mucormycosis
Several different types of fungi can cause mucormycosis. These fungi are called mucormycetes and belong to the scientific order Mucorales. The most common types that cause mucormycosis are Rhizopus species and Mucor species. Other examples include Rhizomucor species, Syncephalastrum species, Cunninghamella bertholletiae, Apophysomyces, Lichtheimia (formerly Absidia), Saksenaea, and Rhizomucor.
Symptoms of Mucormycosis
The symptoms of mucormycosis will depend on where in your body the fungus is growing. They may include:
A) Rhinocerebral (sinus and brain) mucormycosis
One-sided facial swelling
Nasal or sinus congestion
Black lesions on nasal bridge or upper inside of mouth that quickly become more severe
B ) Pulmonary (lung) mucormycosis
Shortness of breath
C ) Cutaneous (skin) mucormycosis can look like blisters or ulcers, and the infected area may turn black. Other symptoms include pain, warmth, excessive redness, or swelling around a wound.
D ) Gastrointestinal mucormycosis
Nausea and vomiting
How it is spread ?
It is spread by spores of molds of the order Mucorales, most often through inhalation, contaminated food, or contamination of open wounds.These fungi are common in soils, decomposing organic matter (such as rotting fruit and vegetables), and animal manure, but usually do not affect people. It is not transmitted between people.
People get mucormycosis through contact with fungal spores in the environment. For example, the lung or sinus forms of the infection can occur after someone inhales the spores from the air. A skin infection can occur after the fungus enters the skin through a scrape, burn, or other type of skin injury.
Who is vulnerable ?
The infection can happen to anyone at any age. Most people will come into contact with the fungus at some point in their everyday lives. But you’re more likely to get sick if you have a weakened immune system because of a medication you’re taking or because you have a health condition like:
Diabetes, especially when it isn’t under control
HIV or AIDS
High levels of iron in your body (hemochromatosis)
Bad health from poor nutrition
Uneven levels of acid in your body (metabolic acidosis)
Premature birth or low birth weight
Stem cell transplant
Neutropenia (low white blood cell count)
Long-term steroid use
Injected drug use
It’s also more likely if you have a skin injury like a burn, cut, or wound. And cases have been reported in people with COVID-19.
How to lower the risk of mucormycosis?
It’s difficult to avoid breathing in fungal spores because the fungi that cause mucormycosis are common in the environment. There is no vaccine to prevent mucormycosis. For people who have weakened immune systems, there may be some ways to lower the chances of developing mucormycosis.
Protect yourself from the environment.
Try to avoid areas with a lot of dust like construction or excavation sites. If you can’t avoid these areas, wear an N95 respirator (a type of face mask) while you’re there.
Avoid direct contact with water-damaged buildings and flood water after hurricanes and natural disasters.
Avoid activities that involve close contact to soil or dust, such as yard work or gardening. If this isn’t possible,
Wear shoes, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt when doing outdoor activities such as gardening, yard work, or visiting wooded areas.
Wear gloves when handling materials such as soil, moss, or manure.
To reduce the chances of developing a skin infection, clean skin injuries well with soap and water, especially if they have been exposed to soil or dust.
Antifungal medication. If you are at high risk for developing mucormycosis (for example, if you’ve had an organ transplant or a stem cell transplant), your healthcare provider may prescribe medication to prevent mucormycosis and other mold infections.