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Black, white and yellow fungi — all you need to know about symptoms and prevention

May 25, 2021, 15:34 IST
  • As India struggles hard with the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, cases of new fungal infections have gone up.
  • The central government has asked all the states to declare black fungus infection as an epidemic.
  • More than 5,400 cases of mucormycosis or black fungus have been registered so far in 18 states.
Disclaimer: This should not be considered medical advice. Please check with your doctor on medical procedures.

As India struggles hard with the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, cases have been registered of these new fungal infections, which can be as deadly as the Coronavirus. Till now, three types of fungal cases have been reported in the country i.e., black, white and yellow.

The central government has asked all the states to declare black fungus as an epidemic. States like Rajasthan, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu have already declared it as a notifiable disease under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897.
More than 5,400 cases of mucormycosis or black fungus have been registered, so far, in 18 states -- with the majority from Gujarat and Maharashtra, said the Union health ministry. People suffering from diabetes and who are taking steroids are more prone to these fungal diseases.

What is black fungus or ‘mucormycosis’?

Black fungus or ‘mucormycosis’ is a life-threatening disease, which has infected COVID-19 patients and recovered patients as well. The fungus is caused by mucormycetes -- a type of fungi -- present in the environment. The fungus surrounds the blood vessels and destroys them resulting in tissue necrosis (death of body tissue) and can even lead to death.

Common symptoms -

  • Nasal blockage
  • Bleeding
  • Discharge from nose
  • Facial pain
  • Swelling
  • Numbness
  • Blurring of vision
  • Double vision or watery eyes
How can you protect yourself from Black fungus?

While in hospital

  1. Maintain good hygiene and cleanliness in your surroundings.
  2. Maintain oral hygiene care with mouthwash, povidone-iodine gargles.
  3. Use sterile water for humidification while administering oxygen, there should be no leakage from the humidifier.
  4. Steroids usage should be limited not more than necessary with strict blood glucose control.
  5. Avoid unnecessary use of broad-spectrum antibiotics or antifungals, can result in growth of unwanted bacteria or organisms.
After recovering from COVID-19 —

  1. Maintain your surroundings clean and free from dust and dampness.
  2. Maintain your oral and nasal hygiene.
  3. Try to stay indoors and do regular exercise or workout.
  4. Avoid construction areas, fields and grounds.
  5. Avoid gardening as soil and plants abound with fungi. Use rubber gloves, masks, and boots, if unavoidable.
What is white fungus or aspergillosis?

White fungus is deadlier than black fungus, say experts. It spreads to several parts of your body and severely damages your lungs. Severe effects can be seen on the kidney, mouth, skin and brain. According to Dr. Kaushal Verma, professor at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the white fungus begins from the tongue or private parts, it makes the tongue white, and then it spreads to other parts like lungs, brain and food pipes.

Symptoms of white fungus -

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dark spots on lungs
  • Reduced oxygen level
  • White patches in oral cavity
  • Skin lesions
How can you protect yourself from white fungus?

  1. People with low immunity are more prone to these fungal diseases, so it is necessary to maintain a healthy immune system.
  2. Maintain your surroundings clean and free from dust.
First case of yellow fungus was reported in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad. Experts say yellow fungus can be scarier than black and white because of the manner it affects the body’s internal organs.

What is yellow fungus?

Unlike black and white, yellow fungus starts internally, causes pus leakage, and leads to slow healing of wounds. In some serious cases, it could further lead to devastating symptoms like organ failure and acute necrosis (cell injury).

Symptoms of yellow fungus
  • Lethargy
  • Poor appetite or no appetite
  • Weight loss or poor metabolism
  • Sunken eyes
How can you protect yourself from yellow fungus?

  1. Fungal infections generally spread through bad hygiene, so it is important to have good hygiene habits.
  2. Keep your surroundings clean.
  3. Remove stale food from the house to prevent the growth of fungus or bacteria.
  4. Humidity also plays an important role, so keep your humidity level between 30% to 40%.
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