Hyderabad: A post has gone viral claiming that black mould found on onions or any other veggies or in refrigerators can cause mucormycosis or the black fungus infection.
The claim made through these viral posts is misleading as black mould of onion is caused by a different fungus namely Aspergillus niger. The black fungus infection is caused by mucormycetes group of fungi.
NewsMeter spoke to Dr Tarjani Vivek Dave, senior ophthalmologist, Oculoplasty specialist, at LV Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad. She said that black fungus or mucormycosis is a fungus that is ubiquitous. Its spores are everywhere. It does not produce the infection just by being present in a certain place. It is important for people to know that for the infection to occur the patient's immune system has to get compromised.
NewsMeter visited the website of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The information on the website confirmed that the black mold on onions is caused by Aspergillus niger, a common fungus found in soil.
We also found a video aired by Dainik Jagran on 24 May, 2021 that had an interview of Dr. Rajib Dasgupta, chairperson of the Centre of Social Medicine (JNU), talking about mucormycosis.
According to the Centre for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), mucormycosis is a fungal infection caused by a group of molds called mucormycetes. These moulds live throughout the environment. Mucormycosis mainly affects people who have health problems or take medicines that lower the body's ability to fight germs and sickness. It most commonly affects the sinuses or the lungs after inhaling fungal spores from the air. It can also occur on the skin after a cut, burn, or other types of skin injury.
The website had information about 'Where mucormycosis comes from?'. However, we did not find anything that would prove the black moulds of onions leads to mucormycosis.
According to a report debunked by Outlook on 7 June, 2021, 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 report had further quoted Dr Shesh R. Nawange, a scientist at the Centre for Medical Mycology Fungal Disease Diagnostic and Research Centre in Jabalpur who shared that this kind of fungus causes infection in rare cases. However, onions should always be thoroughly washed before consuming.
Therefore, the viral claim that the black mould on onions can cause mucormycosis is misleading. The black mould on onions is caused by Aspergillus niger, a common fungus in the soil. Meanwhile, mucormycosis is a fungal infection caused by a group of moulds called mucormycetes.