The second wave of COVID-19 has proven to be more testing than the previous one. Alongside COVID, now India is witnessing another emerging health challenge in terms of fungal infection. More than 9000 cases of fungal infection have been reported till now, owing to which it has been declared as an epidemic in several states. The rising health threat is worrisome and has caused havoc among people.
Black fungal infection or Mucormycosis is a rare fungal infection caused by a group of moulds known as mucormycetes. They often prey on people with weakened immune systems and underlying conditions, particularly diabetes, and excessive usage of steroids to treat severe COVID-19 infection. But some experts suggest that the infection can even be detected in people without COVID-19 disease.
Who is at risk?
The pathogen causing black fungal infection has always been present in the environment, particularly in soil and in decaying organic matter, such as leaves, compost piles, or rotten wood. But it only infects people with compromised immunity and there is no threat to a healthy individual. People suffering from diabetes are at a greater risk of developing this infection. If they do not test SARS-CoV-2 positive, they may develop a rare fungal infection if their blood sugar is particularly high. The risk of developing the infection rises if the patient is suffering from significant other diseases along with uncontrolled diabetes.
What’s the dangerous range of blood sugar?
A diabetic patient becomes more susceptible to black fungal infection if their blood sugar level is consistently higher than 300 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). This is a serious diabetes complication where the body produces excess blood acids (ketones). Medically this situation is known as diabetic ketoacidosis.
This condition can be aggravated by other diseases like pneumonia and excessive usage of steroids, which are common in case of severe coronavirus infection. People who have strong immunity and are healthy should not worry about this fungal infection.
How does the fungus cause infection?
When someone with compromised immunity breathes the fungal spores present in the environment, the pathogens enter their respiratory system and affect their sinus or lungs. The second wave of COVID is more infectious than the previous one due to which most people have been given steroids. This weakens the immunity making the patient more prone to develop the rare infection.
Can a person tested with fungal infection also be COVID positive?
Coronavirus infection and black fungal infection do not happen simultaneously. As per experts, black fungus only emerges after the exit of the coronavirus. After 14 days of COVID-19 infection, a patient does not require antiviral treatment but only for black fungus. The RT-PCR test may show the presence of the virus, but it is considered a false negative.