Indian hospitals report COVID-19 patients hit by black fungus

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A number of Covid patients at an Ahmedabad hospital have been diagnosed with mucormycosis, or black fungus, which can be lethal for transplant recipients, ICU patients, and those with long-term immunodeficiency issues, reported NDTV.

Dr. Kalpesh Patel, an Associate Professor at the BJ Medical College and Civil Hospital, told a news agency ANI that 67 such patients, from the ENT ward, had been identified in the past twenty days alone. “Of these 45 have yet to undergo surgery. We’re doing five to seven operations daily,” he said, as per the report.

At least eight Covid patients succumbed to the fungal infection in Maharashtra, a senior official told a news agency Press Trust of India, adding that around 200 more were being treated for the same.

As per the report, the news of black fungal infections from Ahmedabad also came days after doctors at a leading Delhi hospital told PTI that “they were seeing a rise again in this dangerous fungal infection”.

“In the last two days, we have admitted six cases of mucormycosis. Last year this infection caused high mortality with many suffering from loss of eyesight and removal of nose and jaw bone,” Dr. Manish Munjal, a senior ENT surgeon at Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said on Thursday, as per the report.

The use of steroids in treating COVID-19 patients, along with the fact that many coronavirus patients have diabetes, maybe one cause for the rise in black fungus cases, according to Dr. Ajay Swaroop, Chairman of the hospital’s ENT department.

AIIMS chief Dr. Randeep Guleria agreed with that assertion while speaking to NDTV.

Guleria said an “unjustified” high dosage of some of the drugs given to Covid patients – such as steroids – could “further decrease your immune system… you are prone to secondary infections”.

“Because of Covid your immunity comes down and you are more prone to secondary bacterial and fungal infection, or opportunistic infections. Some of the drugs we give, at levels which are not justified, pre-disposes (one) to these fungal infections,” he said.

“If we are getting very high dose steroids for a long time, then you’re immunity is low… and if you have diabetes or certain other conditions that further decrease your immune system, then you are prone to getting a secondary infection which could be a fungal infection,” he added.

Amid reports of detection of mucormycosis, a fungal infection, which is rising among Covid-19 survivors in India, the Centre issued an advisory on the management of this infection, reported mint.

The evidence-based advisory for screening, diagnosis and management of the disease was released by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Union health ministry.

“Mucormycosis, if uncared for, may turn fatal. Sinuses or lungs of such individuals get affected after fungal spores are inhaled from the air,” it said.

India is fighting a second outbreak of deadly coronavirus infections that has brought the country’s already weakened healthcare system to its knees. India has recorded 366,161 fresh cases taking the toll to 22,662,575 in the last 24 hours.

As the world battles the Covid, hospital beds, drugs, and oxygen are in short supply, and doctors around the country are both overworked and traumatized.

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