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Mucormycosis complication in COVID-19 patients

The pandemic of the new coronavirus infection (COVID-19) continues worldwide. Very recently, many cases of "mucormycosis" developed in COVID-19 patients are reported in India. Now, what is mucormycosis?

Mucormycosis is an infectious disease caused by a group of molds (fungi) called "Mucorales." Mucorales include several fungal species, which commonly live in the environment, such as soil and plants. In general, they do not cause disease in healthy individuals. However, when the patients' defense system (immune system) is impaired, those fungi can develop very severe infectious diseases. This is often seen in patients with diabetes, hematological malignancies such as acute leukemia, receiving bone marrow transplantation and solid organ transplantation. Now, COVID-19 has emerged as a new underlying disease for mucormycosis.

Mucorales are known to cause serious human infection by invading human bodies through various routes. Among COVID-19 patients so far, the fungus tends to enter paranasal cavities by inhalation and causes paranasal sinusitis. This form of infection is well known among diabetic patients, and in COVID-19 patients, diabetes, physical debilitation or the administration of steroids (dexamethasone) may be the risk factors. The treatment for mucormycosis is limited. Once it develops, it progresses so quickly and is often lethal.

MMRC has been collaborating with Brazil for over 20 years on the research of fungal infections. We are currently conducting a study regarding the combination of COVID-19 and fungal infections, including mucormycosis.

(May 19, 2021)