New Delhi: The COVID-19 survivors in India are under another major health threat in the form of “mucormycosis” or the “black fungus”, which is on the rise among recovering and recovered patients, causing blindness or other serious issues.
The state of Gujarat has so far reported over 100 cases of “mucormycosis”, which is a serious but rare fungal infection. In state’s capital city, Ahmedabad, at least five mucormycosis patients are being operated upon every day at the Asarva civil hospital, according to a senior doctor.
While, in Maharashtra, at least eight COVID-19 survivors have lost vision in an eye due to mucormycosis and 200 others are being treated, said Dr Tatyarao Lahane, who heads the state government’s Directorate of Medical Education and Research.
Mucormycosis or black fungus is a serious but rare fungal infection caused by a group of molds called ‘mucormycetes’- which live throughout the environment, as per Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This mold mainly affects people who have health problems or take medicines that lower the body’s ability to fight germs and sickness. People get this type of infection through contact with fungal spores in the environment. It is present in the environment and those with suppressed immunity or co-morbidities are more vulnerable to infection. However, it is not contagious, that means it can’t spread between people or between people and animals, as per CDC.
Mucormycosis isn’t new, but the recent rise of this infection among COVID-19 patients is because the use of steroids elevates sugar level and some medicines suppress the patients’ immunity, said Dr Lahane. In such a situation, the fungus infects the patient easily, he said.
To note, this fungal infection came to light during the first ‘wave’ of Coronavirus, typically a couple of weeks after the patient was discharged, as per Dr Hetal Marfatia, professor and head of the ENT department at the government-run KEM hospital in Mumbai. However, now some patients are contracting this infection even while undergoing COVID-19 treatment, he said.
As per experts, symptoms of mucormycosis could be -headache, fever, cough, pain under the eyes, nasal or sinus congestion, nausea and vomiting, partial loss of vision, chest pain, shortness of breath.