By Ken Buben, President, FancyScrubs.com
The CDC reported yesterday that the deadly fungus that manifested itself after the May 22 Joplin tornado has not been seen after a tornado before, but it could show up again.
There were 13 confirmed cases and 5 deaths from this rare fungus after the Joplin tornado. The CDC report said early diagnosis, surgical removal of the affected tissue and anti-fungal medication were used effectively to treat the fungus. The infection spread quickly and turned those infected with black tissue and caused mold to grow inside their wounds.
The infection develops in two ways: when the fungal spores are inhaled or when a tree branch or other object carrying the fungus pierces the flesh. The fungus blocks off blood vessels to the infected area, causing tissue to turn red and begin oozing. Eventually it becomes black. Treatment is intravenous medications or surgical removal of the tissues themselves.
What exactly is Cutaneous Mucormycosis?
An infectious disease caused by fungus from the order Mucorales which is normally found in the soil and in decaying plant matter. Transmission is usually through the inhalation of spores. It is generally harmless to healthy individuals but can cause infection in patients who are immunocompromised or who have a serious chronic illness such as uncontrolled diabetes. Symptoms and severity can vary considerable depending on the part of the body the infection occurs in – gastrointestinal tract, skin, lungs, central nervous system, eye orbit and the paranasal sinuses. Cutaneous mucormycosis is very rare and involves infection of the skin.
Healthcare workers should be prepared after a tornado or other natural disasters to watch for patients with symptoms of this deadly fungus, especially those with diabetes or chronic illnesses. The symptom of this rare fungus is a painful patch of skin.