Mucormycosis: The ‘black fungus’ maiming Covid patients in India
Amid the deadly second wave of coronavirus, another virus namely, ‘Black Fungus’ is also spreading. The Centre has asked doctors to look out for signs of the rare but potentially fatal infection in Covid – 19 patients.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has advised people on the early detection and management of the black fungal infection that has been reported in a number of Covid-19 patients, especially in Maharashtra.
Mucormycosis is a very rare fungal infection. It is caused by exposure to mucor mould which is commonly found in soil, plants, manure, and decaying fruits and vegetables. It is ubiquitous and found in soil and air and even in the nose and mucus of healthy people. The disease is being detected among patients who are recovering or have recovered from COVID-19. Moreover, anyone who is diabetic and whose immune system is not functioning well needs to be on the guard against this.
Mucormycosis begins to manifest as skin infection in the air pockets located behind our forehead, nose, cheekbones, and in between the eyes and teeth. It then spreads to eyes, lungs and can even spread to the brain. It leads to blackening or discoloration over the nose, blurred or double vision, chest pain, breathing difficulties and coughing of blood.
There are ways to prevent Mucormycosis.
1) Use masks if you are visiting dusty construction sites
2) Wear shoes, long trousers, long sleeve shirts and gloves while handling soil (gardening), moss or manure
3) Maintain personal hygiene, including thorough scrub bath
4) The disease can be managed by controlling diabetes, discontinuing immune modulating drugs, reducing steroids and extensive surgical debridement- to remove all necrotic materials, according to the advisory.
The Black Fungus cases have surfaced where people are indulging in self-medication (to avoid hospital visits) and buying steroids on their own for tackling Covid, which is later leading to the black fungus infection.
In Maharashtra 52 people have died due to the Mucormycosis disease since the Covid – 19 outbreak last year. All of them were Covid-19 survivors, but succumbed to the black fungus infection.
Nearly three-four cases are being reported every week in major hospitals of Punjab’s Ludhiana district though many have been cured. A few patients have lost their eyesight after contracting black fungus. It affects the nose, sinuses, eyes and brain.
In Ahemdabad, 296 patients have died due to Mucomycosis in civil hospital in Gujarat, and a separate ward for them has been opened within the hospital premises.