India has reported a spike in the number of ‘black fungus’ cases and there are about 11,717 such cases recorded recently. Various people and social media pages are making posts with bizarre theories backed by no scientific evidence.
In one such posts doing rounds on Facebook, there is fake claim that the formation of fungus in refrigerators and the fungus seen on the outer layers of onions causes mucormycosis.
The post that was originally made in Hindi cautions people to be careful with the black-coloured fungus that forms on onions is the toxic fungus that causes mucormycosis.
It further mentions that these onions, if stored in refrigerators can spread and leaving moulds on the surfaces inside the refrigerators.
The widely spread post is fake and neither the black mould found in refrigerators nor the one on onions is a cause for mucormycosis. Yes, you read it right.
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stachybotrys chartarum and other similar moulds may cause health symptoms that are non-specific. However, if stachybotrys chartarum or other molds are found, they should be removed.
As per the experts, the fungi that is found in refrigerators is caused by bacteria and yeast. Though it could contaminate the food that is stored in the refrigerators, causing other mild infections, it does not lead to the black fungal infection that is on a rampage in the country at the moment.
The black powder-like fungus that is seen on onions is caused by a common fungus called aspergillus Niger which is found in soil.
On May 24, AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria said that mucormycosis was not a black fungus, and added “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.”
The same was confirmed by Dr Shesh R Nawange, a scientist at the Center For Medical Mycology Fungal Disease Diagnostic and Research Center in Jabalpur. "This kind of fungus causes infection in rare cases. However, onions should always be thoroughly washed before consuming," he said.