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Fact Check: Can You Get Black Fungus From Your Refrigerator Or Onions?

New Delhi: There is no end to myths and misinformation regarding black fungus amid the rising cases of Coronavirus. The social media news factory is working overtime to ‘misinform’ people about the dreaded mucormycosis. Under such circumstances, the news media is duty-bound to bust such myths and guide people.

A Facebook post is doing the rounds claiming that the fungus causing mucormycosis is present in household items. It could be vegetables, especially onions and even your refrigerator.

“Beware of domestic black fungus. At times when you purchase onions, you must have noticed a black layer on them. Actually, this is the black fungus. The black film seen on the rubber inside refrigerators is the black fungus that causes mucormycosis. If ignored, this black fungus can easily enter your body through food items stored inside the refrigerator,” says one such post.

The reality

The fungus which forms a black mold inside a refrigerator and the one that forms a black layer over onions are totally different from the fungus that causes mucormycosis.

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, Times of India quoted experts as saying.

The fungus found on 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 report added.

AIIMS Director, Dr Randeep Guleria explains….

“The most important thing to remember is that mucormycosis is not a black fungus. It is a misnomer… because there is some discolouration of skin as it decreases blood supply, it may give a feeling that the area has become black, that is why the name has come,” he told News18.

“If one is having steroids for a long period of time or has underlying predisposing condition like diabetes, the person is predisposed to many fungal infections, one that is being seen more commonly is mucormycosis which is predominantly involving the synuses, the eye and at times it can go on to the brain and have nasal involvement. There have been some reports of pulmonary mucormycosis.”

“There are people who are at a high risk, they need to be careful about sugar control. We have to be very careful about the use of steroids. Not using it early because there is data which suggests that early use of steroids predisposes to secondary infection, both bacterial and fungal. And also the doses and duration of steroids need to be closely monitored because that itself also predisposes. The viral infection itself, presence of diabetes and use of steroids all need to be closely monitored if you need to prevent this from happening.”