Mucormycosis, also known as black fungus, is a serious fungal infection, usually in people with reduced ability to fight infections. Symptoms depend on where in the body the infection occurs.[ It most commonly infects the nose, sinuses, eye and brain resulting in a runny nose, one sided facial swelling and pain, headache, fever, blurred vision, swollen and bulging eye, and tissue death. Other forms of disease may infect the lungs, stomach and intestines, and skin.
It is spread by spores of molds of the order Mucorales, most often through inhalation, contaminated food, or contamination of open wounds. These fungi are common in soils, decomposing organic matter (such as rotting fruit and vegetables), and animal manure, but usually do not affect people. It is not transmitted between people. Risk factors include diabetes with persistently high blood sugar levels or diabetic ketoacidosis, low white cells, cancer, organ transplant, iron overload, kidney problems, long-term steroids or immunosuppressant use, and to a lesser extent in HIV/AIDS.
Diagnosis is by biopsy and culture, with medical imaging to help determine the extent of disease. It may appear similar to aspergillosis. Treatment is generally with amphotericin B and surgical debridement. Preventive measures include wearing a face mask in dusty areas, avoiding contact with water-damaged buildings, and protecting the skin from exposure to soil such as when gardening or certain outdoor work. It tends to progress rapidly and is fatal in about half of sinus cases and almost all cases of the widespread type.
Mucormycosis is usually rare, affecting fewer than 2 people per million people each year in San Francisco, but is now ~80 times more common in India. People of any age may be affected, including premature infants. The first known case of mucormycosis was possibly one described by Friedrich Küchenmeister in 1855. The disease has been reported in natural disasters; 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2011 Missouri tornado. During the COVID-19 pandemic 2020/21, an association between mucormycosis and COVID-19 has been reported. This association is thought to relate to reduced immune function during the course of the illness and may also be related to glucocorticoid therapy for COVID-19. A rise in cases was particularly noted in India.
Spiritualism is a religious movement based on the belief that the spirits of the dead exist and have both the ability and the inclination to communicate with the living. The afterlife, or the “spirit world”, is seen by spiritualists, not as a static place, but as one in which spirits continue to evolve. These two beliefs—that contact with spirits is possible, and that spirits are more advanced than humans—lead spiritualists to a third belief: that spirits are capable of providing useful knowledge about moral and ethical issues, as well as about the nature of God. Some spiritualists will speak of a concept which they refer to as “spirit guides”—specific spirits, often contacted, who are relied upon for spiritual guidance. Spiritism, a branch of spiritualism developed by Allan Kardec and today practiced mostly in Continental Europe and Latin America, especially in Brazil, emphasizes reincarnation.
Spiritualism developed and reached its peak growth in membership from the 1840s to the 1920s, especially in English-speaking countries. By 1897, spiritualism was said to have more than eight million followers in the United States and Europe, mostly drawn from the middle and upper classes.
Spiritualism flourished for a half century without canonical texts or formal organization, attaining cohesion through periodicals, tours by trance lecturers, camp meetings, and the missionary activities of accomplished mediums. Many prominent spiritualists were women, and like most spiritualists, supported causes such as the abolition of slavery and women’s suffrage. By the late 1880s the credibility of the informal movement had weakened due to accusations of fraud perpetrated by mediums, and formal spiritualist organizations began to appear. Spiritualism is currently practiced primarily through various denominational spiritualist churches in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom