World Health Organization(WHO) releases first-ever list of health-threatening fungi

  • IASbaba
  • October 29, 2022
  • 0
Science and Technology
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Context: WHO recently published a report highlighting the first-ever list of fungal “priority pathogens” – a catalogue of the 19 fungi that represent the greatest threat to public health.

Highlights of the report:

  • Fungal pathogens are a major threat to public health as they are becoming increasingly common and resistant to treatment with only four classes of antifungal medicines currently available, and few candidates in the clinical pipeline.
    • Most fungal pathogens lack rapid and sensitive diagnostics and those that exist are not widely available or affordable globally.
  • The WHO fungal priority pathogens list (FPPL) is the first global effort to systematically prioritize fungal pathogens, considering the unmet research and development (R&D) needs and the perceived public health importance.
  • The list’s publication is opportune as fungi are becoming an increasingly common threat to public health. Global warming and increasing international travel and trade are fuelling this rise.
    • The COVID-19 pandemic saw an increase in mucormycosis or black fungus infections among those hospitalised.
  • Black Fungus, White Fungus, Yellow Fungus, and Green Fungus have been attributed to COVID-19 and led to prolonged morbidity and mortality in COVID-19 patients.
  • A three-layered approach emerged in the strategies suggested by policymakers, governments and public health professionals.
  • The strategy includes:
    • Strengthening laboratory capacity and surveillance.
    • Sustaining investments in research, development and innovation
    • Enhancing public health interventions for prevention and control.

Types of fungal infections:

Green Fungus: Green Fungus or Aspergillosis is the latest addition to COVID-triggered fungal infection that has been reported in Indore.

Symptoms: High fever, Chest pain, Cough, Nose bleeding, Shortness of breath, Weightless, Weakness or Fatigue.

Who are at risk of getting infected with Green Fungus?

  • People with a history of allergy.
  • People with frail immunity
  • People suffering from lung disease

Yellow Fungus:

  • Yellow Fungus, another COVID-triggered fungal infection has been reported in Ghaziabad.

Symptoms: Cough, Fever, Diarrhea, Dark spots on lungs, Reduced oxygen level.

Note: The symptoms of the White Fungus are similar to that of the COVID-19 infection.

Who are at risk of getting infected with White Fungus?

  • People with comorbidities such as diabetes.
  • People who are on steroids for long.
  • COVID-19 patients who are on oxygen support.

White Fungus

White Fungus or Aspergillosis was detected in four patients at Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) in Bihar.

Symptoms: Cough, Fever, Diarrhea, Dark spots on lungs and Reduced oxygen level.

Risk of getting infected with White Fungus:

  • People with comorbidities such as diabetes.
  • People who are on steroids for long.
  • COVID-19 patients who are on oxygen support.

Black Fungus: Increased cases of Black Fungus or Mucormycosis have been observed in COVID-19 patients in the national capital.

The symptoms of Black Fungus infection are:

For Brain Mucormycosis: One-sided facial swelling, Headache, Nasal or sinus congestion, Black lesions on nasal bridge or upper inside of the mouth, Fever.

For Pulmonary Mucormycosis: Fever, Cough, Chest pain, Shortness of breath

For Gastrointestinal Mucormycosis: Abdominal pain, Nausea and vomiting, Gastrointestinal bleeding.

  • Risks of getting infected with Black Fungus: Diabetes, Cancer, Organ transplant, Stem cell transplant, Neutropenia, Long-term corticosteroid use, Hemochromatosis (excess of iron), Skin injury due to surgery, burns, or wounds etc.


Previous Year Question

Q.1) Consider the following statements in respect of probiotics:

  1. Probiotics are made of both bacteria and yeast.
  2. The organisms in probiotics are found in foods we ingest but they do not naturally occur in our gut.
  3. Probiotics help in the digestion of milk sugars.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?  (2022)

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. 1 and 3
  4. 2 and 3

Q.2) Consider the following:

  1. Bacteria
  2. Fungi
  3. Virus

Which of the above can be cultured in artificial/synthetic medium?  (2021)

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3


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