Just when things seemed like they couldn’t get any worse in India, they have. Doctors are finding that patients that are receiving treatment for COVID-19 are also infected with a rare “black fungus” called mucormycosis, a rare but deadly infection.
In the Indian state of Gujarat, 300 patients have been identified as those with mucormycosis, prompting the health ministry to release advisory guidelines on how to properly treat the infection.
Mucormycosis “is very serious, has a high mortality, and you need surgery and lots of drugs to get on top of it once it takes hold”, said Professor Peter Collignon, who sits on the World Health Organization’s expert committee on antibiotic resistance and infectious diseases, to The Guardian.
The disease stems from a group of molds called mucormycetes that live inside soil and on plants. These muccormycetes can be found in the United States and are commonly picked up in hospitals by transplant patients if the mold is on hospital gowns or sheets, or if the mold makes its way through ventilation systems. It also can be found in ground-moving construction sites.
“They’re a family of fungus that gets into your sinuses and deposit there, and they can get into the air spaces in your head,” Collignon said. “And when your immune system can’t keep them under control they invade the base of your brain where it becomes a real problem, and really very serious.”
Surgery is typically required to remove the source of the fungus according to Collignon, but the source area could be found in dangerous areas such as the brain.