MONDAY, May 24, 2021 (HealthDay News) — India is struggling with thousands of cases of deadly fungal infections in COVID-19 patients and those who have recovered from the disease.

Nearly 9,000 cases of the fungal infection mucormycosis, also known as “black fungus,” have been reported so far, Federal Minister Sadananda Gowda said Saturday, the Associated Press reported. Gowda did not reveal the number of fatalities, but local media have said there have been more than 250 deaths from the disease.

Mucormycosis is caused by exposure to mucor mold — commonly found in soil, air, and the nose and mucus of humans — which spreads through the respiratory tract and erodes facial structures, the AP reported. In some cases, doctors have to surgically remove the eye to prevent the infection from reaching the brain. Mucormycosis was already present in India before the pandemic. It is not contagious, but it has a high mortality rate and the frequency of cases in the last month has left doctors shocked.

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