COVID-19: Beware of Black Fungus

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 12 May 2021

A rare and deadly fungal infection, called mucormycosis or Black Fungus, is infecting patients of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in India.

On May 9, 2021 the  Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Union health ministry issued advisory for screening, diagnosis and management of Black Fungus. If left untreated, the disease can be fatal for COVID-19 patients with uncontrolled diabetes, ICMR warned.

This rare but fatal disease is caused by a group of moulds known as mucormycetes. They are present in soil, plants and decayed organic substances. The symptoms include headache, nasal congestion, facial pain, loss of vision or pain in the eyes, swelling in cheeks and eyes and black crusts in the nose. If left untreated, it may result in blindness, removal of the nose, jaw-bone or even death.

The mortality rate of black fungus is 54 per cent and it affects people with compromised immune systems. These may be people with diseases like diabetics, cancer and AIDS / HIV. Steroids used to treat lung inflammation in COVID-19 patients may be a trigger for this disease. Steroids increase blood sugar in both diabetic and non-diabetic patients. Prolonged use of humidified oxygen may also trigger the fungal disease.

To prevent the disease:

  • Monitor blood glucose level post-COVID-19 discharge
  • Judicious use of steroids in diabetic patients 
  • Use clean sterile humidifiers during oxygen therapy
  • Extensive surgical debridement and antifungal therapy


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