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Just when people in India think they have survived the worst thing possible — COVID-19 — they are hit with a deadly infection called “black fungus” — mucormycosis. According to the Insider, as of June 2021, there have been more than 31,000 cases of this fungal infection in India.
As of June 11th, 31,216 cases of black fungus have been reported in India. The country has seen 2,109 deaths due to the infection. That is a 150 percent increase over the past three weeks.
According to The New York Times, the country’s government has not released official numbers. However, in May, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the mucormycosis epidemic a “new challenge” in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, it is unclear why black fungus has surged among COVID-19 survivors in India. Some doctors think it may be connected to the country’s oxygen shortage.
Mucormycosis is a dangerous and rare infection. According to WebMD, black fungus is caused by a group of molds called mucormycetes. These mold groups often affect the lungs, skin, brain, and sinuses.
A person could inhale black fungus spores or possibly come in contact with things like rotting produce or bread, soil, or compost piles.
This deadly infection can affect anyone of any age. At some point in their lives, most people come into contact with mucormycosis.
People are more likely to become sick if they have a weakened immune system, on certain medication, or have these health conditions:
- HIV or AIDS
- Diabetes, especially those who do not have it under controlled
- Low white blood cell count — neutropenia
- Long-term steroid use
- Organ or Stem cell transplant
- Bad health stemming from poor nutrition
- Metabolic acidosis — uneven levels of acid in the body
- Injected drug use
- Hemochromatosis — high levels of iron in the body
- Low birth weight or premature birth.
A person is also susceptible to black fungus if they have a skin injury like a cut, wound, or burn. Of course, those who have survived or currently have COVID-19 have reported contracting a black fungus infection. This infection is not contagious.
According to NDTV, India’s black fungus outbreak is exacerbated by a shortage of amphotericin B — a key anti-fungal medication used to treat the infection.
Written by Sheena Robertson
Insider: Tens of thousands of COVID-19 survivors in India are developing deadly ‘black fungus’ infections that can lead to blindness; by Ashley Collman
WebMD: Mucormycosis: What to Know
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