India is currently battling the second wave of coronavirus. Though the records show that the case load has been declining slowly, – there are other dangerous complications still lurking at large, in the form of fungus.
Colour coded with black, white or yellow – these fungal infections that are being detected in coronavirus patients especially those suffering from comorbid conditions is a major cause of worry. The Director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Dr Randeep Guleria, however recently urged the public to categorise the virus by its medical name but not colour.
The expert doctor explained, “There are several types of fungal infections like candida, aspergillosis, cryptococcus, histoplasmosis and coccidioidomycosis. mucormycosis, candida and aspergillosis and are the ones observed more in those with low immunity. It is important to understand that Mucormycosis or black fungus is not contagious or communicable.”
The doctors in India in the last one week have identified two more varieties of fungus Candida or Aspergillus (white fungus) and Mucor Septic (yellow fungus) besides Mucormycosis (black fungus).
And here are the differences between the three fungi.
What Is Mucormycosis?
Mucormycosis, previously termed zygomycosis, is a rare fungal infection, instigated by the mucormycete mould, that occurs extensively in soil, leaves, decayed wood and putrefied manure.
Who Is At Risk?
- Diabetics with uncontrolled levels of blood sugar
- Comorbid patients on immunosuppressants and on a heavy dose of steroid medication
- Patients in ICU for a prolonged time
- Patients undergoing active cancer treatment
- Those already on anti-fungal medications to combat infections
- Darkening of skin, on the nose bridge
- Inflammation, pain on the cheeks, lack of sensation
- Redness under the eyes, hazy vision
- Abnormal blood clotting, skin injury, necrosis of dermal cells
- Fever associated with severe breathlessness
- Multiple organ failure, if not attended on time
Mucormycosis is treated with powerful antifungal medications that can be taken orally or through IV. These drugs target the fungal specimens, reduce the growth and eliminate the fungus completely. In case of serious complications and damage to the tissues that may lead to organ failure, doctors may intervene with surgical procedure.
What Is Candida or Aspergillus/White Fungus?
Few states in India have reported white fungus in the last one week and that has pressed another panic button. It is as dangerous as Mucormycosis and is mostly seen in children and women. Doctors believe that white fungus is a result of unsanitary use of oxygen concentrators/cylinders, using tap water in the humidifier instead of distilled water and indiscriminate use of steroids. It is in fact termed as deadlier than black fungus.
Who Is At Risk?
- People with compromised immunity are at high risk of getting infected with white fungus
- Patients living under unsanitary conditions like moulds, garbage bins are prone to this infection
- Diabetics with very high blood sugars, people suffering from cancer, organ transplant patients are more at the risk
- Even diabetics, people suffering from cancer and those on long steroids treatment are more at risk of catching white fungus.
The signs of white fungus can sometimes mimic COVID-19 symptoms. Here are few prominent indications to watch out for:
- Nagging cough
- Fever and breathlessness
- Dark spots on lungs, detected by a chest CT-scan
- Reduced levels of oxygen
- White patches in oral cavity
- Skin lesions
The treatment protocol is like other fungus medications. Doctors would prescribe high dosage of antifungal medicines to curtail it from spreading to various organs in the body.
What Is Yellow Fungus/Mucor Septic:
Mucor septic is mostly found in reptiles like lizards and is quite rare in humans. However, cases of yellow fungus are currently being reported in few parts of the country. It is considered as far more dangerous than other two fungi, as it spreads much faster leaving no time for the doctors to decide upon the treatment.
Mucor septic is caused due to excess humidity in the surroundings, accumulation of dirt, other pollutants, consuming stale, spoiled food. Indiscriminate use of steroids and antibacterial medication are also other reasons.
Who Is At Risk?
Just like in the case of white and black fungus, patients with very low levels of immunity are at high risk.
- If you are a diabetic with COVID-19 symptoms, make sure to keep blood sugar levels under control
- Prolonged use of steroids is also another risk factor
- Cancer, organ transplant patients
- Ensure cleaner surroundings
- Confusion and severe fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Unintended weight loss
- Slow healing of wounds
- Pus leakage
- Sunken eyes
- Multi-organ failure
Yellow fungus is treated aggressively by powerful antifungal medications that are administered both orally and through IV. The broad-spectrum antifungal medications help in cutting down the spread of this fungus in the body and prevent major damage. If not treated in time, it can lead to fatality.
How To Prevent Fungal Attacks?
Be it black, white or yellow – these fungi are deadlier and can cause immense damage to our wellbeing. Indian medical fraternity are equally concerned about COVID-19 symptoms and these fungi. And here is how you can prevent the attack of these fungal infections.
- Keep your surroundings absolutely clean. Ensure throwing away dust, rotten veggies, fruits.
- If you are using an oxygen concentrator at home, follow the instructions completely.
- If you are a diabetic, make managing healthy levels of blood sugar at top priority.
- If on steroids, talk to your doctor on the long term impact of this medication. Ask if the dosage can be reduced or medication can be stopped.
- Eat healthy nutritious food. Always wear a mask, sanitize hands, surroundings and do not step out of the house unnecessarily.