Mucormycosis, or black fungus is caused by a mould found in soil and in decaying organic matter like rotting leaves, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).People get mucormycosis, of which there are several types, by breathing in the fungal spores. They can be spread in hospitals and homes by air humidifiers or oxygen tanks containing dirty water.The infection needs to be caught early as it is aggressive and dead tissue has to be scraped away. Surgeons sometimes have to remove patients’ nose, eyes or even their jaw to stop it getting to the brain.
Once infected, people can die within days. However it is not contagious, according to the CDC. India normally deals with a few dozen cases a year. Generally the body’s defences repel the fungus and only those with severely weakened immune systems — for example organ transplant or cancer patients — are affected.