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Green fungus found in recovering COVID-19 patient: All you need to know about this life-threatening infection

A COVID-19 recovered patient was airlifted from Madhya Pradesh’s Indore to Mumbai after being diagnosed with green fungus, the first such reported case in India.

Dr Ravi Dosi, the head of the Department of Chest Diseases at Sri Aurobindo Institute of Medical Sciences (SAIMS) in Indore, told that more research is needed on the relatively uncommon green fungus or Aspergillosis infection that impacts the lungs.

Dosi said the 34-year-old patient was experiencing nosebleeds and fever after battling COVID-19 for two months, raising the suspicion of having contracted black fungus, a rare but probably fatal fungus that was declared an epidemic. However, he was found to have the green fungus, which affected his lungs, sinuses and blood, the doctor added.

What is green fungus?

The green fungus or Aspergillosis is a rare infection caused by commonly found species of fungi known as Aspergillus. Most people breathe these fungal spores every day, both indoors and outdoors. There are approximately 180 species of Aspergillus, but fewer than 40 of them are known to cause infections in humans.

While the immune system suppresses the growth of spores in the body, those with compromised immune systems and those recovering or suffering from lung diseases are at a higher risk of developing aspergillosis. COVID-19 patients, already suffering from lowered immunity, steroid overuse and lung damage, remain at risk of contracting the green fungus.

The fungus, however, is not communicable from one human to another or between animals and people.

Symptoms and treatment

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, patients with Aspergillosis infections can have symptoms like fever, chest pain, cough, coughing up blood and shortness of breath.

However, patients with different types of aspergillosis will have differing symptoms. Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) will lead to wheezing, shortness of breath, cough and fever, while allergic Aspergillus sinusitis will cause stuffiness, runny nose, headache and reduced ability to smell. Symptoms of chronic pulmonary Aspergillosis include weight loss, cough, coughing up blood, fatigue and shortness of breath.

How to prevent contracting green fungus, other fungal infections?

The CDC has advised that those who have suffered from lung diseases should try to ensure that dust, soil and other particulate matter does not enter their lungs by wearing N95 masks.

Moreover, personal hygiene should be maintained and areas with dust or contaminated water should be avoided.

Other types of fungus that have been seen since COVID-19 pandemic

Cases of black fungus (mucormycosis), white fungus (candida) and yellow fungus (aspergillosis) have been seen in the country in rising numbers. AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria has said, “There are various types of fungal infections such as candida, aspergillosis, cryptococcus, histoplasmosis and coccidioidomycosis. Mucormycosis, candida and aspergillosis are the ones observed more in those with low immunity.”

Black Fungus is a term given to the disease called Mucormycosis, which causes invasion of tissues and blood vessels and thus interrupts blood supply to normal tissue, according to an Outlook report.

White fungus is a genus of Yeast called Candida and in humans, it appears as white, creamy spots on the mucosa of the oral cavity most commonly.

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