Doctors believe mucormycosis or black fungus, which has an overall mortality rate of 50%, may be being triggered by the use of these steroids, a life-saving treatment for severe and critically ill Covid-19 patients in India.
Steroids reduce inflammation in the lungs for Covid-19 and appear to help stop some of the damage that can happen when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive to fight off coronavirus. But they also reduce immunity and push up blood sugar levels in both diabetics and non-diabetic Covid-19 patients.
It’s thought that this drop in immunity could be triggering these cases of mucormycosis.
What is mucormycosis or black fungus?
Mucormycosis is any fungal infection caused by fungi in the order Mucorales. Generally, species in the Mucor, Rhizopus, Absidia, and Cunninghamella genera are most often implicated.
Common sources of infections are from soil, damp walls on old buildings etc.
The disease is often characterized by hyphae growing in and around blood vessels and can be potentially life-threatening in diabetic or severely immunocompromised individuals.
The symptoms of mucormycosis depend on where in the body the fungus is growing. Contact your healthcare provider if you have symptoms that you think are related to mucormycosis.
Symptoms of rhinocerebral (sinus and brain) mucormycosis include:
- One-sided facial swelling
- Nasal or sinus congestion
- Black lesions on nasal bridge or upper inside of mouth that quickly become more severe
Symptoms of pulmonary (lung) mucormycosis include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
Cutaneous (skin) mucormycosis can look like blisters or ulcers, and the infected area may turn black. Other symptoms include pain, warmth, excessive redness, or swelling around a wound.
Symptoms of gastrointestinal mucormycosis include:
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
Disseminated mucormycosis typically occurs in people who are already sick from other medical conditions, so it can be difficult to know which symptoms are related to mucormycosis. Patients with disseminated infection in the brain can develop mental status changes or coma.