'Black fungus' gripping India now kills two in Iraq

'Black fungus' gripping India now kills two in Iraq's Dhi Qar Governorate
2 min read
01 June, 2021
Health officials in Iraq confirmed overnight Monday the deaths of two people from the 'black fungus' illness.
The first to die from the fungus in Iraq was reportedly a cleric [HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty-file photo]

The feared "black fungus" illness that has been gripped India has now killed two people in one area of Iraq, health officials have confirmed.

Dhi Qar Governorate health services spokesperson, Ammar Al-Zamili, acknowledged the deaths from the disease overnight Monday, according to The New Arab's Arabic-language service, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

He said the cases occurred in Nasiriyah, Dhi Qar's capital city but stressed that the illness is "very rare".

He said the disease is developed through "exposure to mould" in the soil and rotting fruit and veg, noting that those with conditions such as cancer and diabetes are most at risk.

The infection, officially named "mucormycosis", is not transferred from human to human contact.

It targets areas including the eyes and brain, France 24 said.

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This admission followed a message from the governorate health department, which rejected the suggestion anyone had died from the infection in the area, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed said.

The outlet stated that medical insiders said on Monday the first death was a "cleric", according to Iraqi media.

The presence of black fungus in the deceased was only identified "by chance".

US Center for Disease Control figures suggest that around half of those infected from the disease will die.

According to the Iraq News Agency, Iraqi public health director Abdul Amir Al-Halfi said on Monday: "The black fungus is a very rare disease that affects the immunocompromised and has nothing to do with [Covid-19]".

However, France 24 said experts have linked the illness to coronavirus-related immune problems during its India coverage.

The rise of the illness in India is due to poor hygiene, Al-Halfi said, explaining that travel from India had not yet led to any infections in Iraq.

The situation has been deemed an epidemic in many parts of India, London's City A.M. said on Saturday.

As of that date, over 300 had died from the fungus in the South Asian nation, France 24 reported.

City A.M. also reported that Pakistan has likewise seen black fungus infections.

The deaths in Iraq come amid a recent development in the nation's fight against Covid-19.

On Saturday, it was reported in Iranian state media that Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian acknowledged that Iran is set to receive $125 million in previously frozen funds from Iraq.

These are to cover a purchase of 16 million Covid-19 vaccine doses.