White fungus – Another deadly disease?


Following black fungus ( mucormycosis), another severe fungal infection has been reported in the country – white fungus. The first case was reported in Patna, Bihar and several other cases have been reported since then. The disease is caused by fungal molds called mucormycetes present naturally in the environment. Though not contagious it can be easily contracted by immuno-suppressant patients. 
  What are the symptoms?

  The infection is more deadly and lethal compared to black fungus according to experts in the field. Besides pulmonary infections, it affects skin, stomach, kidney, private parts, nails, and mouth. The symptoms are very similar to COVID including breathlessness, chest pain, cough, inflammation, swelling, and headaches. Usually, patients go for an antigen test or an RT PCR on seeing such symptoms but get a negative report. The white fungus can be detected by a CT scan or an X-Ray.   

 Who is the most affected?
The infection is primarily seen in COVID patients who have taken steroid medication as steroids reduce immune responses. Patients with low immunity like diabetes patients and cancer patients can be easily infected. Patients on oxygen support are more likely to be infected. The affected are treated with antifungal drugs and they have been showing improvement.   
   How to prevent it?
Both black fungus and white fungus can be prevented by boosting immunity. For non-COVID-affected people, staying healthy and having nutritious food is the key and for COVID-affected patients avoiding overuse of steroids is necessary. Steroids should be used only if the oxygen levels drop significantly.   
Though many reports of white fungus being four times more deadly than black fungus surfaced, India today reported that white fungus is just a common fungal infection called Candidiasis that usually affects humans. According to the report, there are many drugs available to treat this, fluconazole being the common one.  
The fungal mold causing white fungus is present abundantly in the environment therefore Immuno-suppressant patients can easily contact it through water or even from the oxygen cylinders. There have been 5 cases reported in Patna so far and one case is suspected in Uttar Pradesh. Officials have said that it can affect pregnant women and children too. We need to be cautious and boosting immunity must be our priority.


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