Beware of Black Fungus

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There is an urgent need to make people aware about the disease

By: Dr. Hilal Ahmad

Mucormycosis, commonly known as Black Fungus, has been observed in a number of covid 19 patients recently. Recent spurt in cases of black fungus among those infected with or recovered from Covid-19 in hospitals across India, has caused serious concern among the health experts and health facilitators who are now facing one more challenge alongside the deadly Covid pandemic.  Among the states in India which recorded the cases of black fungus include Gujarat, with 100 cases, Surat accounting for 40 cases (eight of whom lost their eyesight) in 15 days which is followed by Maharashtra with 52 deaths besides Rajasthan, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh, too, have reporting cases of black fungus.

Thankfully Jammu and Kashmir has not reported any cases of black fungus while as The Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) recently sounded alert and, in a statement, stress upon the need to be vigilant and added that if left untreated the disease can be fatal for covid patients. But the scenario should not be taken on its face value and there is an urgent need to make people aware about the disease.

Awareness and early diagnosis can help curb the spread of the fungal infection. It is therefore essential to detect and manage it early on and some common symptoms of black fungus infection include pain and redness around the area of nose and eyes along with Fever, headache cough, shortness of breath and bloody vomits. Patients more vulnerable to black fungus infection, as is the case with corona virus, people who are suffering from severe comorbidities are more vulnerable to the environmental pathogenesis that causes the infection.

The life-threatening disease has infected many Covid-19 patients including those who have recovered. Although it is not yet classified as an outbreak, the number of cases however continues to grow. Pertinent to mention that the fungus is ubiquitous and is found in soil, air and decaying food and when the body’s defenses have been weakened, the fungus gets a chance to infect with devastating results as  it can go into nose, sinuses, eyes and brain leading to loss of vision and even death in some cases. Its treatment involves removing of all infected tissue through surgery and following with antifungal amphotericin B.

With a large number of corona virus patients being administered steroids in their treatments, the danger of the infection increase manifold. The natural immunity of the human body does fight the fungus but patients who had severe covid19 infection and were admitted for a long time in ICU are likely to have weak immunity which renders them more vulnerable to the infection. Among other  categories of patients  who are vulnerable include  patients suffering from uncontrolled diabetes and who have undergone VURICONAZOLE therapy, as per the information provided.

Patients, who have recovered from covid19, should monitor the blood glucose levels and diabetes levels regularly. Use of steroids by covid 19 patients should be judicious and in consonance with covid19 severity and those who are experiencing symptoms similar to the black fungus infection should not miss or ignore these and should also not lose crucial time and get their black fungus injection at the earliest as the damage caused  by the disease increase with time.

  • The writer is a Cardiac surgeon.

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