All You Need to Know About Green Fungus, Black Fungus, White Fungus and Yellow Fungus

·6-min read

As India tackles three deadly fungal infections — black fungus, white fungus and yellow fungus — it is faced with a new challenge of the green fungus after a 34-year-old COVID-19 survivor was diagnosed with the infection in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore this week. He was shifted to Mumbai by air ambulance for treatment, a senior doctor said on Tuesday. The man underwent a test on suspicion that he had contracted the dreaded black fungus infection (mucormycosis), but he was instead found to have green fungus (Aspergillosis) infection in his sinuses, lungs and blood.

The black fungus or mucormycosis was declared as an epidemic in India under the Epidemic Diseases Act. However, it was followed by reports of white fungus in Patna, and later a case of yellow fungus emerged in Uttar Pradesh's Ghaziabad. According to experts, the white fungus is more dangerous than black fungus due to its acute affect on lungs and other body parts.

Difference Between Mucormycetes and Aspergillus

The black, white and yellow fungus are caused by mucormycetes, which are already present in the environment. According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “They are present throughout the environment, particularly in soil and in association with decaying organic matter, such as leaves, compost piles, and animal dung. They are more common in soil than in air, and in summer and fall than in winter or spring.” Meanwhile, the green fungus is caused by the mold aspergillus, common both indoors and outdoors. It is commonly present in the environment and can be encountered in decaying leaves, compost, plants, trees and grain crops.

Both mucormycetes and aspergillus aren’t harmful to most people even as they come in everyday contact with the fungus, says CDC, but it may attack people with weakened immune system and cause severe infection.

Here’s All You Need to Know About the Four Fungal Infections:

GREEN FUNGUS

It is an infection caused by aspergillus, a common type of fungus that is found inside homes and outside in the open. The medical name for this disease is aspergillosis. According to CDC, while some allergic green fungus attacks may not cause infection, in other cases it can affect the lungs. Invasive aspergillosis, in which green fungus causes a serious infection, typically affects the lungs, but can also spread to other parts of the body. Then there is cutaneous, or skin, aspergillosis, in which case the green fungus enters the body through a rupture in the skin. There are also instances of it occurring after invasive aspergillosis spreads to the skin from somewhere else in the body, such as the lungs.

Who is at risk: While everyday exposure to aspergillus is not always a problem, it may cause serious infection. The various types of infection that green fungus can cause are commonly seen affecting people who have cystic fibrosis or asthma or lung diseases like tuberculosis. Chronic pulmonary aspergillosis, as the name suggests, can affect people who have other lung diseases, like tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), etc. People with weakened immune systems — for instance those who've had an organ transplant or are undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, or taking high doses of corticosteroids (like some Covid-19 patients do) — are at risk of developing invasive aspergillosis.

However, aspergillosis does not spread between people or between people and animals from the lungs.

Symptoms of Green Fungus: The different types of infections that green fungus may trigger can have different symptoms. For instance, when the green fungus triggers an allergic reaction in the lungs (allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, or ABPA), it produces symptoms similar to asthma like wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing and fever in rare cases. When the allergy attacks the sinuses, it can cause stuffiness, runny nose, headache and, in a symptom common with Covid-19, reduced ability to smell.

Chronic pulmonary aspergillosis that affects the lungs can lead to weight loss, coughing, coughing up of blood, fatigue and shortness of breath. As for invasive aspergillosis, symptoms can include fever, chest pain, coughing, coughing up of blood, shortness of breath.

BLACK FUNGUS

Mucormycosis or black fungus can impact a patient's face, nose, eye orbit and even brain, which can lead to vision loss. This type of fungus can also spread to the lungs. According to Randeep Guleria, the director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), black fungus mostly occurs due to the misuse of steroids.

Who is at risk: It has been found that people having diabetes, Covid-19 patients and those who have been consuming steroids for many days are at a higher risk of getting infected with black fungus. It is said that even staying in ICU for a long period can increase the risk of black fungus.

Symptoms of Black Fungus: In recent weeks, it has been found that those who are recovering from Covid are mostly contracting black fungus. Some common symptoms of its early detection are discolouration over the nose, blurred vision, pain on one side of the face, toothache, pain in the chest and breathlessness. In some cases, it has been found that infected patients have also coughed out blood. It can turn fatal if not treated on time.

WHITE FUNGUS

According to recent cases, white fungus is found to be more dangerous than black fungus. Doctors have also warned that if the fungus is not attended to on time, it can lead to death. It badly affects the lungs and can cause damage to the brain, respiratory system and digestive tract.

Who is at risk: White fungus mostly attacks people who have low immunity. Also, unsanitary places with molds make a perfect environment for anyone to catch this infection. Though this fungal infection is not contagious, people around the infected person can catch it by inhaling it if they have low immunity. Diabetic and cancer patients and those consuming steroids for long are at a higher risk.

Symptoms of White Fungus: Some early symptoms of white fungus are quite similar to coronavirus symptoms. A patient can have pain in the chest, cough, breathlessness, headache, body pain, infection in some body parts or swelling.

YELLOW FUNGUS

According to experts, yellow fungus is the most lethal of the three types of fungus discovered till now. It usually affects reptiles and now its first case in human beings has been reported in Ghaziabad. While not much is known about the infection, it is important to know that this kind of infection starts due to unsanitary conditions.

Who is at risk: People who have poor hygienic surroundings are said to be at higher risk of getting infected with yellow fungus. Besides, it can also be caused by contaminated food, overuse of steroids, antibacterial medications and poor oxygen use. It has been advised to keep the surroundings clean and humid free, and remove old foods and faecal matter as soon as possible so that bacteria and fungus do not grow.

Symptoms of Yellow Fungus: Yellow fungus starts off internally. Some early symptoms of it include pus leakage, slow healing of wounds, lethargy, lack of appetite, loss of weight and sunken eyes. In severe cases, it can also show devastating symptoms like organ failure. Experts have advised to consult a doctor as soon as a person notices any infection in the body or any other early symptoms.

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