Assam, May 27: The Assam Government, on Tuesday, announced Mucormycosis or the Black Fungus infection, as a notifiable disease under Section 2 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1807.

The decision was taken by the Health and Family Welfare Department amid a rampaging surge in COVID-19 cases.

All Government and Private Health Facilities, Medical colleges will follow guidelines for screening, diagnosis, and the management of Mucormycosis, issued by the Ministry of Health and FW, Govt of India, and the ICMR,” an official statement said.


What Is Black Fungus:

Mucormycosis (previously known as Zygomycosis) is a serious but rare fungal infection caused by a group of molds known as micromycetes. Rhino-orbital-cerebral-mucormycosis (ROCM) is caused by molds of the order Mucorales.

In this, there are a few subgroups like Rhizopus, Mucor, Rhizomucor which are most commonly involved in this infection.

These fungi are angioinvasive i.e, they invade the surrounding blood vessels and destroy them resulting in tissue necrosis and death. These molds live throughout the environment and their spores are present in the air. They get lodged in the nasal cavity and adjoining sinuses.

Mucormycosis is a very rare infection. It is caused by exposure to mucor mould which is commonly found in soil, plants, manure, and decaying fruits and vegetables. “It is ubiquitous and found in soil and air and even in the nose and mucus of healthy people,” says Dr Nair.

It affects the sinuses, the brain and the lungs and can be life-threatening in diabetic or severely immunocompromised individuals, such as cancer patients or people with HIV/AIDS.

Doctors believe mucormycosis, which has an overall mortality rate of 50%, maybe being triggered by the use of steroids, a life-saving treatment for severe and critically ill Covid-19 patients.

Also Read: COVID-19 patient succumbs to ‘black fungus’ in Assam


Symptoms of Mucormycosis:

Respiratory-related symptoms include:

  • cough
  • fever
  • headache
  • chest pain
  • nasal or sinus congestion and pain
  • shortness of breath

Skin-related symptoms, which can occur in and spread to any part of the body, include:

  • blackened skin tissue
  • redness, swelling, tenderness
  • blisters
  • ulcers

Mucormycosis is not contagious, and most people who come in contact with the fungi do not develop an infection. However, people with severely weakened immune systems are at increased risk of mucormycosis. This includes people with:

  • diabetes
  • cancer
  • HIV
  • skin injury
  • surgery

Also Read: After black and white fungus, yellow fungus case reported in India


How to prevent Black Fungus:

All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) director Randeep Guleria has listed three important factors to prevent the “black fungus” outbreak.

  • Diabetic Patient (uncontrolled diabetes) + Steroid usage + COVID Positive – all three combined together place one under high risk of getting this infection. Hence diabetic patients should always monitor and control their blood sugar level.
  • Misuse of steroids is also a cause of concern that directly affects one’s immune system.
  • Wearing masks is compulsory. Fungal spores found in the air can easily enter the body through the nose. This makes masking up doubly important, in preventing infection.

Mucormycosis or the Black Fungus infection has widely been detected in Assam as well as various other parts of India. Besides, the infection is said to have a significant risk of mortality, and health experts have further analysed that the number of Black Fungus cases is likely to spread in the near future.

Furthermore, a notifiable disease is any disease required by law to be informed to the government authorities. The collation of information allows the authorities to monitor the disease and provides early warning of possible outbreaks. Diseases like cholera, tuberculosis, Diptheria, and many others, come under the notifiable diseases in India.