Black mold disease is a fungal infection caused by the Mucormycetes group of fungi . This yeast infection is a rare and serious infection. Even so, black fungus disease is not transmitted between humans.
A person can get black mold disease when inhaling or ingesting Mucormycetes mold spores . This condition is more at risk in people who have weak immune systems or are suffering from an illness. In addition, this fungus can also infect the skin through open wounds, such as burns .
Black fungus disease or mucormycosis causes infection in the body parts where it first enters. After that, this fungal infection can spread to other parts of the body, such as the eyes, skin and brain. If not treated immediately, this condition can be fatal.
Causes of Black Fungus Disease
Mucormycetes mushrooms are a group of fungi that are often found in decaying organic matter, such as animal manure, rotting wood, compost heaps, and vegetables and fruit. Therefore, this group of fungi is difficult for humans to avoid in everyday life.
There are several types of Mucormycetes fungi that usually cause black mold disease, namely:
- Rhizopus arrizus
- Cunninghamella bertholletiae
- Rhizomucor pusillus
Mucormycetes fungal infection or mucormycosis starts with spores that enter the body or contaminate open wounds. After attaching to human tissue, these fungal spores will grow into hyphae (a more complex fungal structure) and attack the tissue.
Furthermore, black mold disease can cause a number of conditions depending on the location of the infection. Following are some examples:
- If the spores attach to the walls of the nose or sinuses, hyphae can develop and erode the surrounding bone. After that, the hyphae can spread to the eyes and brain ( rhinocerebral-orbital mucormycosis ).
- If spores are inhaled and enter the lungs, hyphae can grow on the surface of the lungs and block the site of oxygen exchange.
- If the spores attach to open wounds, the hyphae can cause skin disease.
- If it enters blood vessels, Mucormycetes fungal hyphae can cause blockage of blood vessels and result in tissue damage or death.
Risk factors for black mold disease
Black fungus disease can happen to anyone. However, there are several factors that can increase a person's risk of developing black fungus, namely:
- Suffering from diabetes, especially those that are not well controlled
- Suffering from HIV/AIDS
- Have an open wound, such as a burn or scrape
- Suffering from cancer
- Undergoing an organ transplant or stem-cell therapy
- Undergoing peritoneal dialysis
- Undergoing hospitalization
- Taking drugs that can weaken the immune system
- Experiencing metabolic acidosis
- Suffering from malnutrition or malnutrition
- Have hemochromatosis
- Suffering from COVID-19
Symptoms of Black Fungus Disease
Symptoms of black fungus disease can vary, depending on the part of the body that is attacked. The following are symptoms of black fungus disease that can occur:
1. Black fungus disease in the nose and sinuses
Common symptoms that appear when black fungus attacks the nose or sinuses are fever, headache, pain behind the eyes, and nausea. Apart from that, black fungus in the nose and sinuses can also cause other complaints, such as:
- Nasal congestion
- Hyposmia or anosmia
- A runny nose with yellow-green snot that turns black over time
- Numbness in the nose
- Swelling in the eyes or face
- Black spots on the bridge of the nose or upper mouth that can spread quickly and are more severe
Black fungus disease in the nose can spread to the eyes and brain ( rhinocerebral-orbital mucormycosis ). Signs that the fungus has spread to the eyes range from protruding eyes, double vision, to blindness.
Usually, the spread of black fungus to the eyes will be followed by a decrease in consciousness and muscle weakness in the face or body. This condition indicates that the fungus has spread to the brain.
2. Black fungus disease in the lungs
Symptoms of black fungus disease that attacks the lungs include:
- Cough that can get worse and become coughing up blood
- Hard to breathe
- Pain in the chest
Black fungal disease in the lungs can spread to the chest wall. This condition is characterized by chest skin that is swollen, reddish, then turns black.
3. Black fungal disease on the skin
Black fungal disease on the skin can occur on any skin surface. Even if it only occurs in one area at first, this infection can spread more quickly.
The symptoms of black fungus on the skin are the same as those of cellulitis , namely:
- Warm feeling
- Blisters or open sores
Over time, the skin can experience tissue death due to the spread of the fungus to the skin's blood vessels. This is marked by a change in skin color to black.
4. Black fungus disease in the digestive tract
If it attacks the digestive tract, black fungus disease can cause varied symptoms and is difficult to distinguish from other diseases. Some of the signs and symptoms that can appear include:
- Stomach ache
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bleeding in the digestive system, which causes bloody bowel movements
5. Disseminated black fungus disease
Disseminated black fungus disease generally occurs in someone who already has another disease or has a very weak immune system. This type of black fungus disease spreads through the bloodstream and attacks several organs of the body, such as the heart, kidneys or bones.
The symptoms that occur can vary greatly, depending on the organs affected. For example, black fungus disease can attack the heart valves and cause endocarditis or attack the bones and cause osteomyelitis .
When to see a doctor
Immediately see a doctor if you experience the symptoms above, especially if you have a weak immune system or suffer from certain diseases.
Early examination is needed to prevent complications and fatal consequences that can arise from black fungus disease.
Diagnosis of Black Fungus Disease
The doctor will ask questions and answers about the complaints experienced, medical history, and medicines that the patient is taking. The doctor will also ask whether the patient was exposed to Mucormycetes fungi before experiencing symptoms. After that, the doctor will carry out a physical examination.
Black mold disease is difficult to diagnose. Therefore, the doctor will carry out further examinations to confirm this disease. The examination includes:
- KOH test, to detect the presence of the Mucormycetes fungus in the skin by taking a sample on the skin that has symptoms of infection
- Biopsy , to detect fungal growth by taking a sample of infected tissue
- Fungal culture, to identify the type of fungus that infects the body
- Imaging tests, such as an MRI or CT scan, to determine the spread of the infection to other organs of the body
Treatment of Black Fungus Disease
Treatment of black fungus disease needs to be done quickly to prevent irreversible tissue damage. The following are methods of treatment for black fungus disease patients:
The doctor will give antifungal medication to stop the growth of the fungus and to eliminate and control the infection.
At the beginning of treatment, antifungal drugs will be given by infusion with high doses. If the condition has improved, the patient will be given antifungal drugs in pill form.
Some antifungal drugs that can be given are:
- Amphotericin B
In severe cases, doctors may perform surgery to remove infected or dead tissue. This is so that the black fungus does not spread more widely and infect other organs.
Complications of Black Fungus Disease
If not treated immediately, black fungus disease can spread quickly throughout the body. As a result, sufferers can experience serious complications, in the form of:
- Nerve damage
- Brain abscess
- Tearing of the digestive tract and peritonitis
Prevention of Black Fungus Disease
Black fungus disease is difficult to prevent, especially if you have a weak immune system or suffer from certain conditions. However, you can reduce your risk of getting black fungus disease by doing the following ways:
- Avoid areas with too much dust or soil, such as excavation or construction sites. If you can't avoid these locations, wear a mask properly.
- Avoid direct contact with floods or damaged buildings after a flood occurs.
- Avoid activities that have a risk of direct contact with soil or dust, such as gardening. If this is not possible, wear personal protection, such as gloves, masks, and clothing that covers the body when carrying out these activities.
- Clean and bandage the wound regularly until it heals if you have a wound on your body.
Black Fungus Disease and COVID-19
Please note, black fungus disease can become a secondary infection (an infection that arises due to other infections) in someone who has had a COVID-19 infection . Based on research, the majority of COVID-19 sufferers who develop black fungus disease are diabetics .
Black fungus disease can also occur in people with COVID-19 due to the use of high doses of corticosteroids with antibiotics. This can weaken the immune system and disrupt the balance of good bacteria in the body. As a result, sufferers are susceptible to other infections such as black fungus disease.
Based on this, WHO recommends steps to prevent black fungus disease in people with COVID-19, namely:
- Control and monitor blood sugar levels in COVID-19 patients with diabetes
- Monitor the use of corticosteroid drugs in COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms
- Reducing unnecessary consumption of antibiotics and antifungal drugs
- Perform sterilization of equipment used for treatment
- Maintain the cleanliness of the surrounding environment