Amid rising cases, a Facebook post doing the rounds is claiming that the fungus causing the much dreaded mucormycosis is present in household items like vegetables and refrigerators.
Part of one such long Facebook post in Hindi translates to, “Beware of domestic black fungus. At times when you purchase onions, you must have noticed a black layer on them. Actually, this is the black fungus. The black film seen on the rubber inside refrigerators is the black fungus that causes mucormycosis. If ignored, this black fungus can easily enter your body through food items stored inside the refrigerator.”
However, the fungus which forms a black mold inside a refrigerator and the one that forms a black layer over onions are totally different from the fungus that causes mucormycosis. The claim is therefore false.
The cases of mucormycosis, or what is commonly known as the black fungus, are on the rise in India with more than 200 deaths being reported from across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Union government had on Thursday urged states and Union Territories to make mucormycosis or black fungus a notifiable disease under the Epidemic Diseases Act, stating that the infection is leading to prolonged morbidity and mortality among COVID-19 patients.
AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria has said there is a need to aggressively work on preventing the fungal infection. He said that cases of fungal infection will probably come down as the COVID-19 cases decrease.
Speaking on the origin of the term ‘black fungus’, he said, “The most important thing to remember is that mucormycosis is not a black fungus. It is a misnomer… because there is some discolouration of skin as it decreases blood supply, it may give a feeling that the area has become black, that is why the name has come.”
Further explaining the cause behind mucormycosis and what can be done to prevent it, Guleria said, “If one is having steroids for a long period of time or has underlying predisposing condition like diabetes, the person is predisposed to many fungal infections, one that is being seen more commonly is mucormycosis…which is predominantly involving the synuses, the eye and at times it can go on to the brain and have nasal involvement. There have been some reports of pulmonary mucormycosis.”
“There are people who are at a high risk, they need to be careful about sugar control. We have to be very careful about use of steroid. Not using it early because there is data which suggests that early use of steroids predisposes to secondary infection, both bacterial and fungal. And also the doses and duration of steroids need to be closely monitored because that itself also predisposes. The viral infection itself, presence of diabetes and use of steroids all need to be closely monitored if you need to prevent this from happening,” Guleria told CNN-News18.