There is a growing number of COVID-recovered patients with mucormycosis, also known as black fungus, in Gujarat.
The distress and chaos related to COVID don’t seem to end with many new symptoms related to the virus making headlines on a day-to-day basis. Well, right now the most searched COVID-related symptom is the “black fungus”. What is black fungus? Is it fatal? Does it affect our eyesight too? Well, let’s find out.
Mucormycosis, also known as the Black Fungus infection, has been reported in many COVID-19 survivors, mainly from Delhi, Maharashtra, and Gujarat.
What is Black Fungus?
FYI, mucormycosis or black fungus is a serious but rare fungal infection due to a rare killer fungus called Mucor which exists in the environment, often found on wet surfaces. It is seen in the form of blackish molds. People get mucormycosis by coming in contact with the fungal spores in the environment. The fungus causes the disease that has now been linked to the airborne COVID-19 infection. The infection first came to light during the first ‘wave’ of the pandemic. It was previously known as zygomycosis.
Recently, PTI reported that the cases of Mucormycosis, affecting some COVID-19 survivors are on the rise in Gujarat which has left many patients blind, doctors and officials claimed on Saturday.
Mathur Savani, chairman of Surat-based Kiran Super multi-specialty hospital, said mucormycosis was detected in a patient who had recovered from COVID-19 disease around three weeks back.
“This number has gone up to around 50 now while 60 more such patients are awaiting treatment,” Savani told PTI.
The hospital, which is managed by a trust, has been receiving several patients diagnosed with Mucormycosis who are being referred from various areas in Surat and other parts of Gujarat, he said.
“As of now, 50 mucormycosis patients are getting treated at Kiran Hospital and 60 others are awaiting (treatment). They all came to our hospital in the last three weeks. All the patients who are suffering from mucormycosis had recovered from COVID-19 recently,” said Savani.
Who should watch out for Black Fungus?
Black Fungus generally affects COVID-19 recovered patients who have other comorbidities like diabetes, kidney or heart failure, cancer as well as patients who are on steroids or have had a transplant. However, it is most common in diabetic patients, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States.
Before the COVID era, Black Fungus was extremely rare and found only in immunocompromised people. However, coronavirus itself reduces immunity levels, largely affects diabetic people and is treated with steroids if serious. As a result, COVID survivors are vulnerable to the infection, especially in the severe second wave.
Early detection will aid the patient’s medication for the fungal infection and clinical intervention to the affected area. Usually, MRI scans determine the extent of damage the fungus may have caused. Mucormycosis, if left undiagnosed or untreated, may result in blindness, removal of the nose, jaw-bone, or even death.
One-sided facial swelling
Nasal or sinus congestion
Black lesions on nasal bridge or upper inside of the mouth
Partial loss of eyesight
Pain under the eyes
Black Fungus Cases Rising in India:
The fungal infection raises alarm with a mortality rate of more than 50 percent.
At least eight people out of 200 such COVID-19 survivors have died due to mucormycosis during treatment in Maharashtra. Meanwhile, the infection has also been reported in large numbers in Delhi and Gujarat.
Mathur Savani, chairman of Surat-based Kiran Super Multi-speciality Hospital told PTI that 50 mucormycosis patients are being treated and 60 more are awaiting treatment at the facility. Seven such patients lost their eyesight, he added.
During a Health Ministry briefing, Niti Aayog Member (Health) V K Paul said that mucormycosis cases were being found in patients with COVID-19. “It, to a large extent, is happening to people who have diabetes. It is very uncommon in those who are not diabetic. There is no big outbreak and we are monitoring it,” he had said.
“When a patient is on oxygen support, it should be ensured that water does not leak from the humidifier (to prevent the growth of the fungus),” he said, while also calling for “a rational usage” of steroids and medicines such as Tocilizumab to treat COVID-19 patients.
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