The government has advised doctors to monitor COVID-19 patients for symptoms of mucormycosis, or “black fungus,” as hospitals register an increase in cases of the uncommon yet possibly lethal infection.
1. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) advised doctors treating COVID-19 patients, diabetics, and others with weakened immune systems to monitor for early signs such as sinus pressure or nasal blockage on one side of the face, one-sided fever, swelling, or numbness, toothache, and tooth loosening over the weekend.
2. Those who received steroids during their virus treatment and those who spent extended time in intensive care units (ICUs) are more vulnerable to catching the fungal infection, the ICMR said.
3. And steroids such as dexamethasone, which is used to manage acute COVID-19, can worsen diabetes. “While cases have been recorded in a number of other nations, including the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Austria, Brazil, and Mexico, the number of cases in India “Is up to three times better than it was before the drought,” claims David Denning, a professor at Manchester University and a member of the Global Action Committee, told news agency Reuters,”
4. The condition, which may trigger discoloration or blackening of the nose, distorted or double vision, chest pressure, respiratory problems, and bloody coughing, is closely associated with diabetes.
5. According to media reports, cases have been recorded in Maharashtra, including the state capital Mumbai, and Gujarat. “It is not anything to worry over,” Aparna Mukherjee, an ICMR scientist, said.
6. Arunaloke Chakrabarti, director of the Chandigarh-based Centre for Advanced Research in Medical Mycology, claimed that even prior to COVID-19, mucormycosis was more prevalent in India than in the majority of countries, “in part of a diabetes patient.”
7. P Suresh, head of ophthalmology at Fortis Hospital in Mulund, Mumbai, said his hospital had handled at least ten such patients in the last two weeks, nearly double the number treated in the year preceding the pandemic. All had been compromised with COVID-19, and the majority were diabetic or on immunosuppressive medication. Some had aged, and others had lost their sight, he said.
8. On Sunday, the Health Ministry issued a public advisory on how to handle the infection. “The number of cases of mucormycosis infection in Covid-19 patients following recovery is approximately four to five times that registered prior to the pandemic,” said Atul Patel, an infectious diseases specialist based in Ahmedabad and a member of the state’s COVID-19 task force.
9. According to data from state-run hospitals, approximately 300 cases have been registered in four cities in Gujarat, including the state’s biggest, Ahmedabad. In response to the increase in cases, the state-directed government hospitals to provide special treatment wards for patients infected with “black fungus.”
10. Treatment entails the removal of both dead and infectious tissue and the administration of antifungal medication. However, Yogesh Dabholkar, an ENT specialist at Mumbai’s DY Patil Hospital, told AFP that the medications used to treat those afflicted with the fungus were prohibitively costly.