White Fungus: What causes the infection and who are at risk of contracting it

Amid a rise in Black Fungus infections among COVID-19 patients or survivors, four cases of White Fungus infection have been reported from Bihar’s Patna. According to news agency PTI, one case has also been reported from Madhya Pradesh's Jabalpur.

The central government last week asked states to notify Black Fungus or Mucormycosis as an epidemic.

How does White Fungus infect a person?

As per the Times of India, the White Fungus infection is caused due to fungi moulds present in the environment. The disease isn't contagious, but a person is said to be vulnerable to the infection since these moulds can be easily inhaled by a patient. After inhalation, the moulds can spread to vital organs and cause complications thereafter.

Who are at risk?

Dr Arunesh Kumar, senior consultant and head respiratory medicine/pulmonology, Paras Hospital, told The Indian Express that the White Fungus infection affects the lungs as well as other parts of the body including nails, skin, stomach, kidney, brain, private parts and the mouth.

Kumar told the newspaper that those with weakened immunity, such as diabetes and cancer patients, and those taking steroids for a long period of time are more vulnerable to the infection. The White Fungus infection is also affecting COVID-19 patients on oxygen support, he added.

Dr Kavita Sachdeva, head of the ENT department at government-run Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Medical College hospital in Jabalpur, told news agency PTI that white fungus is not a new disease, nor is it as fatal as mucormycosis, and is curable with commonly available medicines.

White fungus is curable with commonly available medicines and does not need expensive injections unlike in the case of mucormycosis, nor is it as deadly, Dr Sachdeva added.

"It has no direct connection with diabetes, but diabetes aggravates most infections, bacterial and fungal," she further said.

With inputs from PTI