Fungal infections that can occur in people with COVID-19 are often caused by breathing in fungi in the air or on contaminated objects such as masks.
As the world rolls up its sleeves to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, new challenges are emerging day by day. One of those challenges is that bacterial and fungal infections can occur alongside COVID-19, especially in people whose cases are severe enough to put them in the ICU or who have existing comorbidities like diabetes or HIV.
The presence of fungal infection along with COVID-19 can make prognosis poor, increasing the risk of severe symptoms and even death. In some people, fungal infection can occur even after they have recovered from COVID-19.
Medical practitioners worldwide are therefore working hard to prevent and treat other infections that may occur along with or following treatment of COVID-19.
What are symptoms of fungal infection with COVID-19?
Timely diagnosis and treatment may be possible if fungal infections occur during hospitalization. If they occur after someone has been discharged, however, diagnosis may be delayed, leading to serious outcomes. So it is crucial to identify the symptoms of fungal infection and seek medical care as soon as possible.
Symptoms may include
In people who test negative for COVID-19 but present with symptoms such as fever, difficulty breathing, and shortness of breath, doctors must consider ruling out the possibility of fungal pneumonia such as histoplasmosis, valley fever (coccidioidomycosis), and blastomycosis.
What types of fungal infections can occur with COVID-19?
Fungal infections that can occur in people with COVID-19 are often caused by breathing in fungi in the air or on contaminated objects such as masks. The two most common of these fungal infections are aspergillosis and invasive candidiasis. Others include mucormycosis and histoplasmosis. and Candida Auris infection.
Caused by the fungus Aspergillus, aspergillosis is typically seen in severe COVID-19 cases and referred to as COVID-19-associated pulmonary aspergillosis (CAPA). Scientists used to think that aspergillosis only occurred in people with very weak immune systems, but recent reports have shown that severe respiratory illnesses can cause the condition as well.
Symptoms are often non-specific and may include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and cough with blood. It can even cause death. Early diagnosis (typically by collecting a specimen from the lungs) and treatment is therefore essential.
Caused by the fungus Candida Auris, invasive candidiasis has been reported in COVID-19 units of acute care hospitals. The most common symptoms of invasive Candida infection are fever and chills, which don’t improve even after antibiotic or antiviral treatment for a suspected bacterial or viral infection. The fungus is resistant to several conventional antifungal medications and causes serious infection, killing around 1 in 3 infected people.
The fungus is difficult to identify, requires specialized lab tests for diagnosis, and can live on surfaces for several weeks. Outbreaks of this type of fungal infection may be related to changes in cleaning and disinfection practices in health care facilities, as well as the limited availability or reuse of gowns and gloves.
Wreaked havoc in countries such as India, invasive mucormycosis or “black fungus” is a fungal infection that targets the inner lining of sinuses, nasal cavity, gums, and eye. Once it reaches the brain, it is fatal. Presenting symptoms include black discharge from the nose and in the mouth or gums, as well as facial weakness or squinting due to the involvement of the cranial nerves in the face.
The infection can occur even in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 and a strong predisposing factor is an undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes. Steroid use to manage infections may also be a triggering factor.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Soman, Rajeev, and Ayesha Sunavala. "Post COVID-19 Mucormycosis -- from the Frying Pan into the Fire." Journal of the Association of Physicians of India 69 January 2021. <https://www.japi.org/x27464c4/post-covid-19-mucormycosis-from-the-frying-pan-into-the-fire>.
United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Fungal Diseases and COVID-19." Jan. 12, 2021. <https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/covid-fungal.html#:~:text=Some%20patients%20can%20have%20COVID,include%20aspergillosis%20or%20invasive%20candidiasis>.
Zhou, Pengcheng, et al. "Bacterial and fungal infections in COVID-19 patients: A matter of concern. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol Apr. 22, 2020: 1-2. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7184139/>.
Top COVID-19 and Fungal Infection Related Articles
Can Diarrhea Be an Initial Symptom of COVID-19?COVID-19 has become a common illness that affects many people. Learn the signs of COVID-19, what causes it, how doctors diagnose it, and what you can do to treat it.
Coronavirus COVID-19 Prevention: Test Your Medical IQWhat's really the best way to prevent the spread of new coronavirus COVID-19? Should wear a mask or not? Take this quiz to find out!
Coronavirus COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2): The Latest News, Updates, and InformationSee the latest news, updates, and information on the Coronavirus COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) outbreak. Learn about symptoms, prevention, face masks, vaccines, Delta and Omicron variants, possible treatments, quarantine, isolation, social distancing, self-isolation and more.
Coronavirus: How COVID-19 Affects Your BodyBy now, everyone knows about COVID-19. But do you know how it can affect your body?
COVID-19 Vaccine Myths and Facts QuizThe FDA has granted Emergency Use Authorizations for COVID-19 vaccines that have been shown to be safe and effective as established by data from large clinical trials.
Do Recovered COVID-19 Patients Have Antibodies?While antibodies have been found in people who recover from COVID-19, it’s unclear how long the immune response lasts. It’s important to continue following public health guidelines to protect yourself from reinfection.
How Do You Know if You Have a Sinus Infection (Sinusitis) or COVID-19 Coronavirus?Learn how the signs and symptoms of a sinus infection are different from those caused by COVID-19.
How Do You Know if You Have Bronchitis or COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?What is the difference between bronchitis and COVID-19 (Coronavirus)? Learn how to recognize the symptoms of bronchitis and COVID-19 to help you treat either illness.
Is COVID-19 One of the Causes of Pleurisy?Pleurisy is a painful lung condition that makes it hard to breathe. Learn what causes it, how it's diagnosed, what you can do to treat it, and if COVID-19 causes it.
Lung and Respiratory: Signs That You May Have Had COVID-19Could you have already had COVID-19 and not know it? Learn some signs that might indicate just that.
MucormycosisMucormycosis (zygomycosis) is a fungal infection caused by Zygomycetes. Symptoms and signs include fever, headache, coughing, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, bloody vomit, and possible altered mental status. Treatment usually involves debridement of infected tissue and antifungal drugs.
What Is the Difference Between a PCR Nasal Swab and a COVID-19 Antigen Test?Both the PCR test and antigen test can be used to determine whether you have been infected with the COVID-19 virus. While it takes longer to get results, a PCR test is usually more accurate than an antigen test.
What Is the Recommended Pain Reliever for COVID-19?Acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve) can all be used for pain relief from COVID-19 if they are taken in the recommended doses and approved by your doctor.
Skin Problems: Rosacea, Acne, Shingles, Covid-19 RashesLearn to spot and treat skin conditions commonly found in adults such as acne, Covid-19 rashes, eczema, shingles, psoriasis, rosacea, hives, cold sores, razor bumps, athlete's foot, and more dermatology details.
What Is the COVID-19 Antibody Test For?The COVID-19 antibody test, also known as a serology test, is a blood test that looks for antibodies to determine whether you have had a recent or past infection of the virus that causes COVID-19.
COVID-19 (Coronavirus, 2019-nCoV)Infection with COVID-19 (2019 novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV) causes respiratory problems in humans. Transmission of COVID-19 occurs mainly through contact with respiratory sections from an infected person, however, fecal contamination may also spread the virus. Symptoms start off flu-like and progress to coughing, fever, shortness of breath, shaking chills, headache, loss of sense of taste and/or smell, muscle pain, and sore throat. Treatment focuses on supportive care and symptom relief. COVID-19 vaccines are available.
Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Prevention QuizWhy is coronavirus considered dangerous? What are the symptoms you should look for? Take this COVID-19 prevention quiz to learn how to protect yourself.