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Mucormycosis

Introduction

Mucormycosis is an infection caused by fungi belonging to the order Mucorales. Mucormycosis is a life-threatening infection that occurs in patients who are immunocompromised because of diabetic ketoacidosis, neutropenia, organ transplantation, and/or increased serum levels of available iron. Because of the increasing prevalence of diabetes mellitus, cancer, and organ transplantation, the number of patients at risk for this deadly infection is increasing. Despite aggressive therapy, which includes disfiguring surgical debridement and frequently adjunctive toxic antifungal therapy, the overall mortality rate is high. With the world reeling under the throes of a submicroscopic, enigmatically animated infectious particle, the novel coronavirus, we are now having to contend with another hitherto not so common opportunistic foe the so-called “ Black fungus” infection, academically christened mucormycosis. The most brutal, ruthless manifestation being Rhino-orbito-cerebral mucormycosis(ROCM).


Etiology

Mucormycosis is an infectious disease caused by a fungus of the class of Zygomycetes and the order of Mucorales.

The species most frequently isolated from patients are Apophysomyces (A. variabilis), Cunninghamella (C. bertholletiae), Lichtheimia [Absidia] (L. corymbifera L. raosa), Mucor  (M. circinelloides), Rhizopus (R. arrhizus (oryzae) R. microsporus), Rhizomucor (R. pusillus), and Saksenaea (S. vasiformis). These are common environmental organisms that are not harmful to humans who are immunocompetent. In patients with overt immunocompromise (i.e., transplant patients, HIV, patients of chronic steroids or disease-modifying anti-rheumatic medications, leukemia or other cancer patients), they can present with rapidly progressive necrotizing infection. Similarly, uncontrolled diabetics (particularly those with a history of diabetic ketoacidosis) are also at risk.


What types of infection do these fungi cause?

Generally, some types of fungi don't cause any infections in humans but can cause sickness in people with weakened immune systems known as opportunistic infections.

Some most common types of fungal infections are:

  • Skin infections like ringworm
  • Nail infections
  • Deeper cutaneous infections following trauma,
  • Breach in the skin with subsequent fungal implantation and growth
  • Sinus infections and deep lung infections

 


The fungi can also affect the gastrointestinal system, renal systems and can cause a full-blown infection resulting from the entry of fungus into the bloodstream.

Why is it occurring in COVID 19 patients?

Are these infections life-threatening?

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