Black fungus: Popping zinc tablets increases vulnerability, say doctors

Opine masks don’t spread infection, diabetics have always been vulnerable to fungal attacks

Published: 25th May 2021 06:05 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th May 2021 04:51 PM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Soiled masks would not result in black fungus infection among Covid patients as the growing scientific evidence dismisses the fear mongering on the social media. Instead, health experts point the sudden increase in black fungus cases to the misuse of steroids, antibiotics and zinc tablets. While people with uncontrolled diabetes have always been vulnerable to fungal attacks, the increase in cases has given rise to various assumptions.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in his daily briefing clarified that there was no scientific evidence linking masks and black fungus. He said the use of masks is beneficial in preventing the fungal infection.

“There is no evidence to suggest that soiled masks, steam inhalation and humidifiers would make people vulnerable to black fungus. But it is the uncontrolled use of medicines that is helping the fungal attack,” said Dr K P Aravindan, a leading pathologist and member of the expert panel on Covid-19.

The demand for immunity-boosting supplements have increased during the pandemic and a large number of people are consuming them without any basis of evidence, according to health experts. Dr Aravindan pointed out the abuse of zinc supplements, also available as part of multivitamin supplements, to be a reason for the increase in the fungal attack. 

“The high levels of sugar, iron and zinc create a favourable condition for the fungus to grow. Unfortunately, even doctors suggest zinc and vitamin supplements without any evidence for their benefits,” he said. According to health experts, the commonly used drugs such as steroids and Tocilizumab lower the immunity of patients and use of such drugs without the supervision of a doctor will make the patient vulnerable to Covid-associated mucormycosis (CAM), loosely described as black fungal infection. The steroids would raise the blood sugar level of patients, weaken their immune system and make them vulnerable to fungal attack.

The disease can be easily treated if detected at an earlier stage. The fatality becomes 50-80 per cent if the condition worsens. The state has reported 20 patients and five deaths due to black fungus so far. The widespread reporting of black fungus cases has caused anxiety among the public.

“There are people who believe that they are infected with black fungus when they feel headache and see scars on the body. Such unfounded fears will affect the mental health adversely. Not all Covid patients get infected with black fungus. The most vulnerable are those who have lost their immunity and are under treatment at intensive care units in hospitals,” said Dr Anish T S, assistant professor of Department of Community Medicine, Government Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram.


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