Researchers at the AIIMS, Bhubaneswar have discovered a new and rare species of fungus which reportedly causes Mucormycosis, and named it ‘Cunninghamella Arunalokei’.
The nomenclature of the species has been in honour of Prof. Arunaloke Chakrabarti, a leading clinical mycologist from India.
Noted health expert Narayan Mishra said Cunninghamella Arunalokei is a very rare species of mucormycosis which is scarcely found in India. It is white in colour.
Giving details about the findings, Vinay Kumar Hallur, Associate Professor at the Department of Microbiologist in the premier medical institute said, “The fungus has been named after my teacher Arunaloke Chakrabarti. It causes mucormycosis. Patients infected from the fungus can be treated through a combination of surgery and medication. Patients affected by this mucormycosis suffer sinus problems, headache and dead skin problems,” Hallu said.
The presence of this mucormycosis in a patient can be detected through laboratory test within two hours. Following the detection of the fungus, the patients is immediately operated upon and put on medication, added the AIIMS Bhubaneswar researcher.
The AIIMS Bhubaneswar researchers found the rare species of fungus in a 26-year-old youth from Odisha in March, 2018.
“When the patient infected with the fungus came to us, we took his samples and performed slide culture. We found the organism present in the sample different from mucormycosis. Therefore, we conducted molecular and DNA tests and collaborated with the researchers of Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGI), Chandigarh who said the concerned fungus was a different species altogether. Following confirmation, the details of the new fungus was published in the ‘Journal of Fungi’,” said Hallur.
“These are a group of fungus which enters the body while breathing. The fungus enters the body of the patients suffering from high diabetes, immuno-suppression or are on steroids through nose and grow inside the sinus. As the fungus starts growing, it starts damaging the tissues inside the nose and sinus. And if the patient does not get proper treatment, the fungus enters the brain, leading to the death of the patient,” informed Hallur.
In India, the fungus is found in air and wearing masks can prevent it from entering the body. The fungal infection can be seen in non-Covid-19 patients too, added Hallur.
On a cautionary note, Hallur said those who are diabetic and are on steroids should prevent themselves from doing gardening activities and avoid places where fungi are visible to open eyes.
Meanwhile, leading health expert Narayan Mishra said Cunninghamella Arunalokei is a very rare species of mucormycosis which is rarely found in India.
“The rare species of mucormycosis called Cunninghamella was found in a 26-year-old male from Odisha. The patient was immunocompetent and he was not suffering from any disease and was not on any steroid. Despite this, he suffered from the fungal infection for six years. It has high morbidity and mortality,” said Mishra.