By Apollo 24/7, Published on - 12 May 2021
The symptoms of COVID-19 infection can range from mild to life-threatening complications along with bacterial and fungal coinfections. People with comorbidities such as diabetes mellitus, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and those who required corticosteroid therapy, mechanical ventilation, and intensive care are at increased risk of developing severe opportunistic infections.
Opportunistic infections (OIs) are diseases that are severe and occur more frequently, especially in people with compromised immune systems. Some of the OIs reported in COVID-19 patients are oropharyngeal candidiasis (yeast infection inside the mouth), pneumonia, pulmonary aspergillosis, and bloodstream candida infections. Besides all these infections reported in COVID-infected patients, doctors have also reported several cases of a serious fungal infection called mucormycosis.
Mucormycosis (also known as zygomycosis) is a serious fungal infection caused by a group of moulds called mucormycetes. Mucormycosis usually affects people who are either suffering from a health condition or consume medications that suppress the body's immune system. It mostly affects the sinuses or lungs after the inhalation of fungal spores from the air. It can also enter the body through the skin after a cut or any other skin injury.
The symptoms of mucormycosis depend on the area the virus affects. However, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) advisory on 9th May 2021, the symptoms of mucormycosis in COVID-19 patients include:
If the infection develops in the brain, the affected person may also develop mental signs such as confusion, altered mental status, paralysis, and even coma.
Events that may result in the development of the black fungal infection include:
Factors that may increase the risk of mucormycosis in COVID-infected patients include:
Some measures that can help reduce the risk of developing mucormycosis in COVID-infected people include:
Apart from these, it is critical to identify the signs and symptoms of mucormycosis early to reduce the risk of severe infection.
Mucormycosis is a serious infection, which should be treated immediately or else it could be life-threatening. The treatment of mucormycosis in a COVID-patient involves:
If it is not diagnosed early, the ‘black fungal’ infection, mucormycosis, can be extremely dangerous. COVID-infected patients who have poorly controlled diabetes mellitus or have suppressed immune system must inform their doctor if they develop any of the symptoms of mucormycosis. This will allow doctors to make necessary medical interventions if a mucormycosis infection is suspected in a patient suffering from severe COVID-19 infection. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can help prevent the progression of severe mucormycosis infection.
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