Hyderabad: An image of an alleged news piece from NDTV is being shared on Facebook and WhatsApp with the title 'Black fungus is spreading due to farm chickens'.
The image warned people not to eat farm chicken for some days and stay safe. More text on it said, "The Punjab government has notified the poultry farm as an infected area."
The claim that black fungus is spreading through farm chickens is misleading.
Black fungus or mucormycosis infection is not new. According to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, "People get mucormycosis by coming in contact with the fungal spores in the environment… These forms of mucormycosis usually occur in people who have health problems or take medicines that lower the body's ability to fight germs and sickness."
The pores of mucormycosis and other such fungi are present everywhere in the environment and inside most of us too. These don't affect people with a healthy immune system, said Dr. Shashidhar Reddy, resident doctor at Gandhi Hospital, Secunderabad.
"Previously, mucormycosis cases were seen in persons being treated for HIV or tuberculosis as they are given immunosuppressants," he said. He added that although more studies need to be done, the occurrence of black fungus cases in COVID-19 patients can point to the usage of steroids for COVID treatment.
In a report in The Hindu, AIIMS director Dr. Randeep Gularia said that mucormycosis is not a communicable disease like COVID-19 and it doesn't spread from one person to another.
What else can cause the rise in black fungus cases apart from the usage of certain drugs used for treatment that suppress the immunogenic response in COVID-19 patients?
An article in the Firstpost stated that the primary cause of black fungus cases is the "unhygienic way of delivering oxygen to patients in many places, combined with the indiscriminate use of steroids in the treatment of COVID".
The Guardian, too, had published an article where ventilators in intensive care units have been mentioned as the source for fungal spores. The article also quoted director of the Indian Council of Medical Research, Balram Bhargava, who said that COVID-19 patients with diabetes or who are immunocompromised are more susceptible to the black fungus.
In the Hindu article Dr. Gularia had said, "Maintaining proper hygiene is very important for diabetic patients since chances of opportunistic infection is very high in such patients. Those using oxygen concentrators should ensure cleaning of humidifiers regularly."
Find more information about black fungus on these explainers done by NewsMeter.
The fact-check team of Press Information Bureau (PIB) has also debunked the claim that black fungus is spreading through chickens.
Regarding the text about the Punjab government, using keywords, NewsMeter found the NDTV news report from where the photo with the caption "Punjab government has notified the poultry farm as an infected area" was taken. The report has nothing to do with black fungus.
Hence, the claim that black fungus can be transmitted through poultry is misleading as the cause for black fungus infection is being linked to usage of steroids in treating COVID-19 patients and unhygienic hospital equipment.