These days the colours of fungus are making scary headlines, white fungus, black fungus, and yellow fungus are in the news but no one knows who has coloured this fungus. So far, more than 10,000 cases of black fungus have been reported in India.
The fungus affects the eyes, nose, face, lungs, and even brain in some severe cases. As per experts, misuse of steroids and monitoring the side effects of medication can be a reason behind the rise in black fungus cases. The central government has asked all the states to declare black fungus infection as an epidemic. More than 5,400 cases of mucormycosis or black fungus have been registered so far in 18 states.
The second wave of coronavirus is finally slowing down with daily cases in India dipping to below 2 lakhs. But new fungal infections have followed in its aftermath – the most recently reported the doctor in Uttar Pradesh invented ‘yellow fungus’ also called mucor septic. An ENT (Ear-Nose-Throat) specialist Dr Tyagi said that the patient is also infected with black and white fungus apart from yellow fungus and is currently undergoing treatment at UP’s Ghaziabad hospital. Mumbai’s Medical practitioners refuted his claims calling this news a sensation.
When Afternoon Voice spoke to various doctors of the city most of them denied the existence of yellow fungus.
What the doctors say
Dr Samir K. Bhargava – ENT Surgeon from Mumbai said, “Unfortunately certain doctors have labelled the colours. To tell you very frankly, the black fungus itself is a misnomer. None of these funguses, none we are tackling, the one we are calling Mucor is black, white, or yellow. Depending upon the medium that it is grown and the time that is seen can have various colours. mucormycosis is called Black fungus for the simple reason that it damages the blood circulation, causes the tissue to become dead and that tissue first becomes white because it does not have a blood supply and then becomes black because it is dead tissue. That is actually a reason why it is a black fungus.”
“White fungus is Candida infection. We see a lot of Candida in the ear, mouth and it is non-invasive, the yellow discolouration can happen in Aspergillum fungus. But none of these is labelled in any microbiology textbook as White, Yellow, or Black. This terminology is given in the Indian subcontinent may create some sensation,” Dr Bhargava further added.
Dr Sukeshani Katale, General Practitioner from Mumbai who is also working in various COVID centres said, “The biggest question is that, why are we talking about fungus in terms of colours, I don’t blame the media because what they are publishing is quoted or circulated by some doctors.”
“The media needs to check the authenticity of these doctors. So far expect one case in Uttar Pradesh as claimed by some doctor, no other case of yellow fungus in India. People are paying to cure the fear rather than the symptoms. Doctors should be more responsible while making or leaking such information on public platforms,” said Dr Katale.
Dr Christopher D’Souza, DORL, MS, ENT specialist says, “Most fungi are opportunistic organisms usually growing when there is darkness, dampness, and dying tissue. Most of the fungi are whitish or grey in colour, which can often be mistaken for yellow. The commonest fungus is candida, which is beige in colour. It is called black fungus because it invades and destroys blood vessels in tissues causing them to get necrotic. This causes the tissue to turn black. Because Mucor is a very aggressive fungus it causes rapid death of tissue causing tissues to turn black quickly thus giving it the name of black fungus.”
Dr Varun Dixit, a Plastic and Cosmetic surgeon said, “From what little I know, fungi can be of various types, different colours are just a way to categorize them based on external appearance or under a microscope. Fungal infections can be very deadly and debilitating since they are stubborn organisms. What is most unusual, is that mucormycosis (black fungus) after or during Covid treatment seems to be a phenomenon exclusive to India. There is no consensus or clarity about the exact reason for that to happen.”
Dr Sudhir Parlikar, of Care hospital, Nagpur said, “I think it’s not time to panic over the colours of fungus. Yes, they have different colours and can damage sinuses, our vision and even cause severe brain and fatal systemic infection. It’s time to get an early detection, awareness among the public, maintain available resources, training, fulfil the shortage of life-saving medicines and optimize the use of antibiotics and steroids.”
Dr Geetanjali Shetty, M.D, F.C.P.S, D.D.V Dermatologist said, “When it comes on to clinical findings on the skin, lesions can be nonspecific, but an indurated plaque that is erythematous to purple that rapidly evolves to necrosis is a common finding. There’s no way to avoid breathing in spores. But you can do a few things to lower your chances of mucormycosis. It’s especially important if you have a health condition that raises your risk. Stay away from areas with a lot of dust or soil, like construction or excavation sites. If you have to be in these areas, wear a facemask like an N95. Avoid infected water. This can include floodwater or water-damaged buildings, especially after natural disasters like hurricanes or floods. If you have a weakened immune system, avoid activities that involve dust and soil, like gardening or yard work. If you can’t, protect your skin with shoes, gloves, long pants, and long sleeves. Wash cuts or scrapes with soap and water as soon as you can.”
Dr Rajendra Khatal a Paediatrician said, “Better to address fungal infections by name rather than colour to avoid confusion. It’s better to use the correct name because the colour of the fungus may seem different according to the part of the body in which it is growing. The term ‘black fungus’ came to be associated with cases of mucormycosis because of its culture. The culture comprises white-coloured fungal colonies with black dots. Fungal infections like mucormycosis, candida, and aspergillums are commonly seen in people with weak immunity. Black Fungus cases, White and Yellow fungus infections too were reported from different parts of the country recently, which scientists say are also mucormycosis. Not all people who have contracted coronavirus infection and are on treatment for COVID-19 obtain mucormycosis.”
Dr Suresh Sanghvi, a Plastic surgeon from Pune said, “The fungus itself has no colour, different types of fungus are there, the different colour they create after their reaction with human tissue. Like Mucormycosis is tagged as black fungus, right now the colour of the fungus is really irrelevant, the property is to save people from these deadly fungal infections.”
AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria, “Don’t know why there are reports on colourful fungus, colour labelling of the fungus was misleading as the colour of fungus could be seen differently if it developed in different areas. Persons with low immunity are infected with Mucormycosis, Candida and Asporogenous infections. These fungi are mainly found in the sinuses, nose, bone around the eyes, and can enter the brain. Occasionally found in lungs (pulmonary Mucormycosis) or in the gastrointestinal tract.”
The country has recorded less than 3 lakh daily new cases for the eight consecutive days as of Wednesday. The gap between daily new cases and daily recovered cases has reduced to 80,229.