Black fungus Covid-19


A rapid rise in cases of mucormycosis, also known as black fungus, has added to the challenges faced by India’s healthcare system as it deals with a massive second wave of COVID-19 infections. The following lays out information about mucormycosis, opinions from health experts and the scientific evidence behind what could be driving the recent rise in cases.
Mucormycosis is a fungal infection that causes blackening or discoloration over the nose, blurred or double vision, chest pain, breathing difficulties and coughing blood. The disease has a close link to diabetes, and conditions which compromise the immune system. Experts have said that an overuse during the COVID-19 pandemic of certain drugs which suppress the immune system could be causing the surge.
Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that mucormycosis has a mortality rate of 54 percent, which can vary depending on the condition of the patients and the body part affected. States across India have reported more than 5,000 cases of the otherwise rare disease in recent weeks, mostly in people infected with COVID-19 or recovering from the disease.
The disease is not contagious, which means that it cannot spread from contact between humans or animals. But it does spread from fungal spores that are present in the air or in the environment, which are almost impossible to avoid. Experts say that unsanitary conditions could increase the risk of developing the infections. There is a lot of contamination in the pipes used for oxygen, the cylinders that are being used.
COVID-19 has been associated with a wide range of secondary bacterial and fungal infections, but experts say India’s second wave of COVID-19 has created a perfect environment for mucormycosis.
Low oxygen, diabetes, high iron levels, immuno-suppression, coupled with several other factors including prolonged hospitalization with mechanical ventilators, creates an ideal milieu for contracting mucormycosis.
India has recorded 11,717 cases of Mucormycosis, or Black Fungus, so far, with Gujarat, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh logging the highest number of cases, as per the latest government data.
Last week, as the number of Covid patients infected with Mucormycosis spiked, the Health Ministry asked all states to declare Black Fungus infection an epidemic and report all cases. The disease has emerged as a new challenge in India’s battle against COVID-19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Friday.
Maharashtra has reported 2,770 cases so far. Gujarat has logged 2,859 cases and Andhra Pradesh 768 cases. Union Minister DV Sadananda Gowda shared data from different states and said around 30,000 extra vials of Amphotericin-B – the drug used to treat Mucormycosis – had been allocated to all states and union territories.
Delhi has reported 620 cases so far, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said. This is nearly five times more than the number of cases (119) reported by the central government.
Mucormycosis, according to the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research), is a fungal infection that “mainly affects people who are dealing with medical problems that reduces their abilities to fight environmental pathogens”.
Pain and redness around the eyes or nose, fever, headache, coughing, shortness of breath, bloody vomit and altered mental status are some of the symptoms.Mucormycosis, “if uncared for”, may turn fatal, the ICMR has warned.
Sinusitis, one-sided facial pain, numbness or swelling, blackish discolouration “over bridge of nose or palate”, toothache, loosening of teeth, blurred or double vision, chest pain and breathing trouble are some of the symptoms in Covid or diabetic patients.