Wednesday, 4 Aug 2021

Black fungus panic: Fourth Latin American country reports death – killer infection spreads

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On Friday, Buenos Aires confirmed a 35-year-old man, who had a history of diabetes, died last month after testing positive for coronavirus. Three more cases of the deadly fungal infection has also been reported across Argentina.

The country’s health ministry said in a statement: “The Ministry of Health of the Nation informs that the first notification was received by the National Health Surveillance System of a case of mucormycosis, known as ‘black fungus’, associated with a patient from [the province of] Formosa who has Covid-19.”

María Luján Cuestas, of the University of Buenos Aires, said reporting of the “black fungus” – also known as mucormycosis – is not compulsory in Argentina.

However, she confirmed the number of infections was rising.

Argentina is now the fourth Latin American country to report a death related to the deadly fungal infection.

Scientists in Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Uruguay have detected isolated cases in patients recovering from COVID-19.

A statement released by the Chilean Society of Infectology said: “Cases of fungal infections have been detected since the start of the pandemic but the frequency has increased and serious cases have risen.”

Uruguayan scientists also discovered a case of “black fungus” in a 50-year-old man recovering from Covid.

So far Brazil has recorded 12 infections – the highest number of cases in Latin America – but there are yet to be any fatalities.

Reports have claimed this has been overshadowed by the brutal second wave of COVID-19 across the region which has claimed more than 3.8 million lives.

According to the Times, for every one million people in an average year, there are 1.7 cases of black fungus reported in Argentina.

This is compared to just one case every two years in the US and western Europe, the Journal of Fungi reported.

“Black fungus” causes blackening or discolouration over the nose, blurred or double vision, chest pain, breathing difficulties and coughing of blood.

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Coronavirus patients with diabetes and a weakened immune system are particularly prone to attack.

The fungal infection has a mortality rate of 50 percent.

In India, more than 2,100 people are believed to have died from black fungus in a matter of weeks.

Dr Arvinder Singh Soin, a leading Indian doctor in Delhi, recently tweeted: “We have seen more cases of black fungus in the past week than we normally treat in two years.”

Dr VP Pandey, head of the state-run Maharaja Yeshwantrao Hospital in the central Indian city of Indore, added the surge in India was “definitely unexpected”.

He said: “This surge in patients was definitely unexpected.

“We used to see one or two cases a year previously.

“The black fungus infection has now become more challenging than Covid-19.

“If patients are not treated in time and properly then the mortality rate can go up to 94 percent.

“The cost of treatment is expensive, and the drugs are in [short supply].”

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