Cow dung is one of the most popular fuels in India which is used for cooking and other purposes. However, according to new data by medical researchers, it is now believed that the consumption of cow dung was the reason behind the black fungus epidemic.
Mucormycosis or black fungus is caused by the Mucorales fungi. It has an overall mortality rate of 54%, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and prevention. During the deadly second wave of Covid-19, the black fungus was declared an epidemic in India in May 2021.
In November 2021, the country had 51,775 cases of black fungus. According to science, Mucorales is a type of fungi that thrives on the excrement of herbivores. Additionally, since India has nearly 30 crore bovine cattle, the usage of cow dung in Indian practices and rituals is high.
Jessy Skaria, one of the main researchers in this research, said that the high cases of Covid-19-associated black fungus in India were attributed to a combination of Covid-19 with diabetes and the treatment involved using steroids.
However, the same factors existed in other countries, hence they investigated unique local causes in India that could increase the exposure to Mucorales spores, such as the burning of cow dung.
Fungal spores disperse widely through the smoke of burning biomass, therefore, the practice of burning Mucorales-rich cow dung and crop stubble may disperse the spores of the fungi into the environment.
In India, cow dung has been used in many rituals. In many parts of the country, cow dung is applied to human bodies and drinking cow urine. Furthermore, cow dung is burnt and inhaled as a part of purification rituals during times of festivals or cremations.
Although the current research is hypothetical, researchers believe that it could advance in the future and explain the black fungus outbreak in the country.
Featured image source: PJ Star