Coronavirus Fact Check: Can you catch black fungus from your refrigerator or onions? Myth busted!

Coronavirus Fact Check: Can you catch black fungus from your refrigerator or onions? Myth busted!

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As India battles with a new surge of mucormycosis black fungus cases, there’s also a lot of misinformation surrounding the infection as well. The mere nature of the rising cases, especially post-COVID-19 is enough to scare people.

Unfortunately, the rising proportion of cases has also fueled disputed claims on social media. One such recent one made people believe that things in their home could be spreading scary fungal infections.

A recent claim on social media, which has been widely shared has made many believe that the vegetables stored in your refrigerator can have black fungus.

CLAIM

A post on Facebook, originally published in Hindi advises people to be careful of common use vegetables, including onions which could be a harbinger of black fungus infection.

The post roughly could be translated as “Beware while buying onions from the market and storing them in the refrigerator. The black grime or fungus often seen on the outer shell of the onions is toxic black fungus that causes mucormycosis.”

The viral claim further mentions that if people are not too careful, the black grime can spread if used while cooking curries or stored in the refrigerator’s cool settings.

The writers of the post also claimed that the black mould can collect on the refrigerator surfaces and cause harm.

Ever since the date of publishing, the post has been widely shared across platforms.


TRUTH

Not only is the claim completely untrue, but the mode of transmission for black fungus also isn’t through mere objects, or in this case, fruits or vegetables.

For one, the fungi which form inside the refrigerator, the fungal grime present on onion shells are completely different from the black fungus infection.

As per experts, the moulds which grew inside a refrigerator may be caused by some forms of bacteria, yeast. While they can be dangerous and cause contamination, they showcase nonspecific symptoms.

The fungus, meanwhile, found on the onion shells is the result of a common fungus found in the soil. While it is pertinent that all vegetables be thoroughly washed before use, the fungus found on onions is rarely infectious.

The black fungus infection, on the other hand, spreads in a very different manner and is many more times symptomatic. As per health experts, it carries a mortality rate of 50%.

Black fungus infection, which is spread through fungal moulds called ‘mycormetes’ are present in the environment. The infectious spores cause the dangerous disease when a person, who is at risk of infection inhales them via contaminated surfaces (such as unsanitary environment) or humid temperatures. Simply put, it doesn’t spread through the food you eat or objects you may touch, but when you inhale these contagious moulds through unclean surfaces.

Reports have also suggested that the use of unfiltered or unclean water supply used for oxygenation in COVID-cases may also be a source of transmission of disease.

Additionally, a black fungal infection, though carries a high mortality, isn’t infectious for everybody. As per AIIMS Director and renowned medical expert, Dr Randeep Guleria, people suffering from extreme or uncontrolled diabetes, or those who have been using steroid therapy for long, since their immunity could be suppressed.

Mucurmycetes infection also primarily affects people who are suffering from severe comorbidities or routinely consume medications that suppress the body’s immunity to fight off infections.

Furthermore, a black fungus infection can be diagnosed and detected by extracting a fluid sample from the sinus passage, tissue imaging and prior medical history.


SOURCES

The information on black fungus infection has been clarified by a number of credible medical experts and doctors. Guidelines, information have also been listed down by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on social media.


VERDICT

There’s no truth to the matter of the black fungus infection is similar to the moulds growing in your refrigerator, or the onion. At a time like this, it is critical that we get our facts right, be aware of the symptoms and seek treatment at the earliest. If you have recently recovered from coronavirus, or experience symptoms such as black crust formation around the nose, excruciating headaches, swelling, redness, seek a doctor’s consultation at the earliest.

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