Experts have attributed the recent cases of black fungus and white fungus infections in India as an aftermath of COVID19 infection and an extremely compromised immune system. Is the same applicable for yellow fungus? More details here.
These fungal infections, although rare, are highly lethal and it is reported that the mortality rate ranges between 25 per cent to 90 per cent. (Photo: iStock)
With cases of black fungus and white fungus infections being reported from several states across the country, the first-ever case of ‘yellow fungus’ has surfaced at a hospital in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad.
The maiden case of yellow fungus has been reported from ENT (ear, nose, throat) surgeon Brij Pal Tyagi’s Harsh ENT Hospital in Ghaziabad, about 40 kilometres from the national capital New Delhi.
“The patient’s sinus seemed normal in the CT scan but when we performed an endoscopy test on him, we found that he is infected with three different types of fungi: black, white and yellow,” Tyagi was quoted as saying in a media report.
“The yellow fungus is known as mucor septicus and is commonly found in reptiles like lizards. I have seen it for the first time in a human being. There is no reference of this fungus affecting human beings in the medical journals. The wound of yellow fungus takes longer to heal than its black and white variants,” he added.
Gaon Connection made several calls to contact the hospital but there was no response.
So far, there is no specific official acknowledgment about the occurrence of yellow fungus by the government.
“Yellow fungus is an opportunistic pathogen. It creates a disease condition in people whose immunity is lower,” Meghana Kulkarni, head of the department of microbiology at Pune-based Fergusson College, told Gaon Connection.
“Fungi of different colours are infecting people due to the different types of species that have begun to affect human beings as a result of fall in general immunity due to COVID19,” the microbiologist added.
Meanwhile, the central government has already declared mucormycosis, commonly known as black fungus, as an epidemic and directed all the states to make it a notifiable disease under the Epidemic Disease Act 1897. In other words, it is mandatory for the health facilities to report all confirmed or suspected cases of the disease to the health ministry.
The occurrence of black fungus or Mucormycosis has been recorded in patients infected with COVID19 or those who are recovering from it. On endoscopic test of the nasal cavity, blackened dead tissues are seen which confirms the infection by the black fungus.
Black fungus usually affects nasal passage, oral cavity and the infection can possibly reach the brain as well.
The same test can prove the infection by a white fungus, which can be deadlier than the black variant because it impacts a set of vital organs like brain, respiratory organs, digestive tracts, kidneys, nail bed and genitals.
Not much is known about the yellow fungus as of now but it is reported that its common symptoms vary from lethargy, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Worse symptoms include sunken eyes, formation of abscess, and leakage of pus.
In advanced cases, it could also lead to organ failure and death.
These fungal infections, although rare, are highly lethal and it is reported that the mortality rate ranges between 25 per cent to 90 per cent.
According to microbiologist Kulkarni, these fungi (black, white or yellow) don’t usually infect human beings but patients with a vulnerable immune system often fall prey to their attack.
Fungi in general are not very common pathogens of human beings. They usually affect plants. Very few fungi actually affect animals, said Kulkarni. “For humans to contract these infections, it is only possible when the immunity is too low as in case of AIDS (Acquired Immuno-deficiency Syndrome). In AIDS, patients report a fungal infection of the oral cavity which is caused by a pathogen called ‘candida’,” she explained.
When asked about the treatment of yellow fungus, the microbiologist said that a general antifungal medication is usually administered by the doctors while treating the patients. “But these medications should be followed under a strict medical regime as antifungal medications have serious side effects as well,” she cautioned.
Experts have attributed the recent cases of black and white fungus infections in India as an aftermath of COVID19 infection and an extremely compromised immune system.
Randeep Guleria, director of the New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and a member of India’s COVID task force has stated that irrational use of steroids has been a contributing factor in Covid-Associated Mucormycosis (CAM).
Also, to meet the surge in demand of oxygen, large quantities of industrial oxygen were diverted for medical use. This is also being touted as one of the probable reasons for rise in fungal infections in the nasal passage of patients of COVID19.
Although industrial oxygen has a higher concentration of oxygen in the container, their hygienic condition doesn’t meet medical standards, claim some reports. Cylinders with industrial oxygen are often used roughly and are vulnerable to extremely small leaks.