Identify fungus by name, not colour, says AIIMS chief on mucormycosis

Dr Randeep Guleria

New Delhi | With the ‘black fungus’ identified in Covid patients, followed by a ‘white’ variant and now ‘yellow’, AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria on Monday advised that mucormycosis should be identified by its name, rather than by its colour.

He said that it is better not to use the term ‘black fungus’ while talking of mucormycosis, as it leads to a lot of avoidable confusion.

“Black fungus is another family; this term got associated with mucormycosis due to the presence of black dots among the culture of white fungal colonies. In general, there are various types of fungal infections such as candida, aspergillosis, cryptococcus, histoplasmosis and coccidioidomycosis. Mucormycosis, candida and aspergillosis are the ones observed more in those with low immunity,” he told the media here.

“Fungal infection observed in Covid-19 patients is mostly mucormycosis. While the number of cases are increasing, it is not contagious or infectious like Covid,” he said.

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Guleria also clarified that there is “no definite link between oxygen therapy and catching the infection as 90 to 95 per cent of mucormycosis patients are either diabetic and/or taking steroids”.


“This infection is seen very rarely in those who are neither diabetic nor taking steroids,” he said.

He said that some of the common symptoms of mucormycosis are one-sided facial swelling, headaches, nasal or sinus congestion, black lesions on nasal bridge or upper inside of mouth that quickly become more severe, and fever.

The AIIMS director said anti-fungal treatment goes on for many weeks, so it is proving to be challenging for hospitals, since Covid-positive patients and Covid-negative patients who catch mucormycosis need to be housed in separate hospital wards. Surgery also needs to be done judiciously since aggressive surgery for mucormycosis can have adverse outcomes for Covid patients.

Maintaining proper hygiene is very important for diabetic patients since chances of opportunistic infection is very high in such patients, he said, adding that those using oxygen concentrators should ensure cleaning of humidifiers regularly.

IANS

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