What is the “black fungus” that causes deaths in India? 0:46
(CNN Spanish) – The appearance of the “black fungus” in India has been reported in international media. Mucormycosis – or black fungus – is mostly affecting patients with covid-19 or those who have overcome the disease.
But why? Dr. Elmer Huerta explains it in this episode.
Hello, I am Dr. Elmer Huerta and this is your daily dose of information about the new coronavirus, information that we hope will be useful to take care of your health and that of your family.
Today we will see what is known about the “black fungus” that is affecting people with covid-19 in India.
What is “black fungus”?
The news came from India a few days ago. Thousands of people were being attacked by a rare type of fungus infection – immediately christened by the press as black fungus – that causes severe disease with high mortality.
According to the news, thousands of people who were suffering from an active case of covid-19 or who had already recovered from the infection, were falling ill in India, infected by the ‘black fungus’.
The majority of the victims had in common being diabetic, having used high doses of corticosteroids during the management of their disease and having a history of cancer or organ transplantation.
The disease in question is called mucormycosis, a name that comes from the words mucor, which in Latin means mold; mico which means mushroom; and osis which means process.
How “black fungus” enters the body
Mucormycosis means then the process or disease caused by a fungus that forms mold, and that I am sure that you have found sometime in your house when you have seen that bread, cheese, a fruit or vegetables have become impregnated with mold.
For your peace of mind, I tell you that these types of fungi do not cause any disease in people who have their normal defense system, because they affect only those people who have their defense system – especially the type of white blood cells called neutrophils – greatly decreased by some serious chronic disease, such as cancers of various types, transplant recipients, severe decompensated diabetes or AIDS.
It is also important to say that mucormycosis is not spread from person to person and that the way a person is spread is by breathing in the spores of the fungus, which can be found in the environment.
Once these are breathed in, the spores mature and form fungi in the mucous membranes of the nose and paranasal sinuses – which are the hollow spaces in the bones of the face – and can sometimes cause pulmonary mucormycosis.
This is how mucormycosis affects the body
The fungus has the characteristic of affecting the small arteries and veins of the tissues, thereby interrupting the blood flow of the tissues, which become necrotic, which is the medical term that means tissue death.
By destroying the affected tissues, the initial treatment of mucormycosis is the removal of the affected tissues with surgery, a treatment that facilitates the action of a drug against fungi called amphotericin B, which must be given through the vein to try to control the disease .
Sometimes, mucormycosis develops by the direct implantation of spores in the skin of people with a very weak defense system, and this is the cutaneous form of the disease.
Unfortunately, this disease has a very high mortality rate, which exceeds 50%, a mortality that is a consequence of the involvement of vital organs such as the brain and lungs.
On the other hand, happily the disease is very rare in the world, except in India.
What do scientists say about this fungus?
In this regard, a review of the subject, published in the Journal of Fungi in March 2019, finds, for example, that for every million inhabitants, 1.2 cases occur in Mexico, 1.7 in Argentina, 2 in Brazil, Chile , Colombia, the Dominican Republic and 3 in the United States.
In India, however, there are 140 cases per million inhabitants, which is approximately 70 times more frequent than in the rest of the world.
Thus, although two cases have been reported in Uruguay, it is important to emphasize that there is no reason for fear in the general population.
The disease is very rare and does not spread from person to person.
Do you have questions about the coronavirus?
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