Mucormycosis, which is a typically rare infection, has a 50% mortality rate with certain patients only being saved by removing an eye or jaw bone. Thousands of cases involving recovered and recovering COVID-19 patients have been recorded in India in recent months. Doctors believe that there is a correlation between COVID’s condition and the steroids a patient receives.
Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Health, wrote to India’s 29 states on May 20, requesting that an epidemic be declared. By doing so, the ministry will be able to keep a closer eye on what’s going on in each state and allow for better care integration. It’s unclear how many cases have occurred across the world, a situation that is only aggravating the misery led by the deadly second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maharashtra’s health minister Rajesh Tope said last week that the state had 1,500 cases of the infection, making it one of the worst-affected in India’s second wave of COVID-19. According to the BBC, one hospital in the state capital has seen 24 cases in the last two months. This is compared to six in the previous year.
Doctors have also told the BBC how they were forced to remove people’s eyes and jawbones in order to avoid the disease from spreading to their brains, leaving the patient permanently disfigured as a result. Despite the fact that several Indian companies produce Amphotericin B, the medication used to treat mucormycosis, there is a shortage of the drug. Families have resorted to the black market as a result.
What is mucormycosis?
Mucormycosis, or black fungus, is a complication of a fungal infection. This is a condition that is generally uncommon but has the potential to be fatal. According to records, the incidence of black fungus is steadily increasing in India, as is the death toll.
Doctors also warned of a “pandemic within a pandemic” as a result of an increase in such cases across India in tandem with Covid.
Infections with the black fungus have been found in states such as Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, and Bihar. Although some states have made it a reportable disease, others, such as Rajasthan, have declared it an epidemic.
How does one catch black fungus?
People are infected by fungal spores that float about in the environment. The fungus may also be contracted when it “enters the skin through a cut, burn, or other types of skin trauma.”
When the fungus comes into contact with a body part, it may stick to it and then move inward through the nose, sinuses, or lungs.
Local infections may occur if the fungus enters through a cut or a burn. However, if it enters through the sinus, it can damage the eyes and, ultimately, the brain, resulting in death.
Some doctors believe the black fungus took hold after medications were given to at-home Covid patients without first lowering their blood sugar levels.
Others say it overwhelmed immuno-suppressed systems as a result of patients’ unclean, unhygienic post-Covid living conditions.
Doctors under duress and panicked patients, says AIIMS chief Randeep Guleria, are making the situation worse. “There’s sometimes a knee-jerk reaction among physicians, who choose aggressive medical treatments instead of being conservative,” he said.
What are the symptoms?
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (IMCR), some early signs of the condition include “sinus pain or nasal blockage on one side of the face, one-sided headache, swelling or numbness, toothache and loosening of teeth.”
According to reports from various top hospitals across India, patients are reporting “blurred vision, discoloration or blackening of tissue on nose and cheeks and black lesions inside the mouth or discharge from nose.”
While black fungus has been declared an epidemic in four states and one union territory, four cases of White Fungus infection have been recorded from Patna and Bihar. It’s worth noting that White Fungus is more toxic than Black Fungus.
Since it affects the lungs as well as other parts of the body such as the nails, skin, stomach, kidney, brain, genitals, and mouth, white fungus infection is being considered to be more harmful than black fungus infection.
White fungus can also invade the lungs, according to doctors, and an infection similar to COVID-19 can be diagnosed using HRCT on an infected patient. According to Dr S N Singh, Chief of Microbiology at PMCH, Patna, all four people infected with White Fungus had coronavirus-like symptoms but were not COVID-19 positive. However, their lungs were discovered to be contaminated, and after testing and treatment with antifungal medications, they recovered.
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