India has reported 4,332 deaths caused by mucormycosis, a condition commonly known as “black fungus” that has seen a dramatic uptick in the country since the start of a devastating second Covid wave.

The country’s health ministry revealed on Tuesday that the number of total individuals infected by this fungal infection has crossed 45,000 cases.

The ministry said that 20,277 patients are still under treatment, while 19,073 have recovered.

The condition is caused by a group of moulds called “mucormycetes” that are present in the air and cause complications in those with acute illnesses such as severe Covid, or in people with compromised immunity.

According to doctors, once inhaled, the infection in vulnerable patients could spread into the sinus cavities, lungs, and chest cavities.

Some of the signs and symptoms of the fungal infection include persistent pain and headaches caused when the fungus infects sinus cavities and nerves.

If not detected early enough, the disease can spread to the nose, eyes, jaw bone and even brain and require amputation of the affected body parts.

On Wednesday, a “black fungus” survivor named Lata Khandelwal shared her experience in a thread on Twitter. She revealed that while she is now free from the infection after battling it for three months, the “loss” caused by the fungus will “remain permanent” as she is required to cover her sinus palate with detachable parts.

Khandelwal also wrote that she has to be “without teeth for the next two months” as doctors “can’t give her permanent dentures” for the next “three to four years” as they await bone development.

“I should thank God for saving my life,” she wrote.

The fungus is believed to be more dangerous for those who have weakened immune systems, including diabetes patients and those who are taking steroids for a long period of time – one of the treatments for severe Covid cases.

Doctors have previously said that mucormycosis can be induced in Covid patients by the overuse of steroids, used generally to treat those who are critically ill. It is also more likely to affect those who are otherwise severely immunocompromised.

In the past 24 hours, India has seen 42,015 new cases of Covid-19. So far, 418,480 people have died of the disease in the country and there are still 407,170 active ongoing cases.

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