Indian officials are struggling with a new health crisis, the "Black Fungus," amid the COVID-19 pandemic which has left many hospitals in the country with a large number of patients struggling to breathe.

Dr. Bela Prajapati, an ear, nose, and throat specialist at Civil Hospital, handles nearly 400 patients suffering from a rare and often fatal fungal disease that has made its way into the country following the COVID-19 virus.

Many Indian hospitals struggled amid the unprecedented second wave of coronavirus cases during the spring. Many believe the desperate steps that many medical establishments took contributed to the arrival of the new disease.

Black Fungus Disease

In the last three weeks, officials recorded a sharp rise in the number of cases for the new illness, Mucormycosis, or more commonly known by its nickname "black fungus," because it is found on dead tissue. Data showed the disease was first found in a negligible number of patients, but quickly shot up by more than 30,000 cases.

News reports showed states recorded more than 2,100 deaths related to the new disease. New Delhi's federal health ministry is currently monitoring the spread of the black fungus across the country but has not revealed data regarding the fatality rate of the disease, the New York Times reported.

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Health experts reported that 85% of black fungus cases are in patients who have a history of COVID-19, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, India's Health Minister, said last week. The mucor mold is commonly found in soil, manure, and decaying fruits and vegetables. It finds its way more easily into the lungs of COVID-19 patients, especially those with diabetes. The disease is more dangerous in areas with poor hygiene, such as rural areas.

The CDC's New Infectious Disease journal posted a study that showed a 2.1-fold rise in the number of black fungus cases in India between September and December 2020, compared to the numbers from the previous year.

Deadly Epidemic And Pandemic

The black fungus disease causes a lot of infection and is especially fatal if left undiagnosed and untreated, Dr. Chand Wattal, Ganga Ram Hospital's head of Clinical Microbiology in New Delhi, said, during an interview.

The illness spreads through the infected person's nose, eyes and brain, causing blackening of color around the impacted regions. The fungus consumes anything it comes across and causes necrosis by devouring the blood supply in the area. The black fungus has always been a deadly infection in India, but has become more apparent amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Wattal said, CBS News reported.

Additionally, earlier this week, Omani health officials warned of devastatingly low hospital bed availability with the spread of the new COVID-19 variants, the slow vaccination of residents, and the easing of lockdown restrictions. Similar to India, the region has also recorded the black fungus infection in some of its residents. The disease has increased the fear and anxiety of the people who are already suffering from the COVID-19 virus, Aljazeera reported.

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