'Black fungus' is appearing more frequently among COVID-19 patients in India. What to know about the deadly infection. - USA TODAY
May 12, 2021 1 min, 26 secs
A rare but potentially deadly "black fungus" infection is being found in a growing number of COVID-19 patients in India.

A rare but serious fungal infection is appearing more frequently among COVID-19 patients in India as coronavirus cases soar to more than 350,000 per day, according to Johns Hopkins University data. .

The most common form of the infection seen among COVID-19 patients in India is rhinocerebral mucormycosis, an infection that starts in the sinuses and can spread to the brain.

Symptoms of mucormycosis tend to appear two to three weeks after COVID-19 infection, Hansoti said. .

This type of mucormycosis occurs more frequently among patients with diabetes, which is why health experts say cases are spiking in India where one in six people have the chronic disease, according to the International Diabetes Federation Diabetes Atlas published in 2019.

Up to 75% of mucormycosis cases occur among COVID-19 patients with diabetes, she added, with as many as 45% undiagnosed until they show up to the hospital.

In addition to this risk factor, health experts say, immune-suppressing steroids prescribed to control inflammation from COVID-19 create an opportunity for fungal infections to take hold. .

Many COVID-19 patients in India with breathing difficulties are being prescribed steroids as oxygen becomes a scarce resource, Hansoti said.

“Some of it is the doctors throwing (steroids) at patients because there’s a critical need for oxygen,” she said.

The structural integrity of the lungs also can be compromised by the coronavirus and ventilators, making it harder to fight off fungal infections, Angarone said.

According to the CDC, this type of fungal infection is not as life-threatening as mucormycosis

While they’re appearing more frequently in COVID-19 patients, fungal infections are still fairly rare in the U.S., Angarone says

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