States across India have started declaring a “black fungus” epidemic due to a rare case of a deadly infection in patients recovering from Quaid-19.
Fungal disease, called mucormycosis, has a mortality rate of 50%. It initially infects patients in the nose but can then spread to the fungus in the brain, and can only be treated with major surgery to remove the eye or part of the skull and jaw.
It is usually a rare disease, but in India now more than 7,200 people have been reported to have mycorrhizal mycosis and 219 people have lost their lives. Increased incidence of black fungus infection, in most patients with severe cases of Covid 19, is associated with increased use of steroids in the treatment of corona virus, which can compromise the immune system in the long run. The high incidence of diabetes in India has also been blamed, with high blood sugar levels linked to allergies. India has the second highest rate of diabetes in the world.
This has also been reported in patients who were on ventilators in intensive care units, as their airways were exposed to moisture and humidity.
The disease is caused by fungal spores found in soil and organic matter, usually inhaled by humans through the air. Mold enters the body and then appears around the nose and eye sockets, causing the nose to turn black, and if left untreated, it can cause lethal movements in the brain. Healthy people will usually fight the fungus but it can spread quickly to those with compromised immunity.
So far, five states, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Telangana, have declared black fungus an epidemic, and more states are expected to expect it. The Indian Council of Medical Research has issued an advisory on the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
Maharashtra, the first state in India to be hit hard by the second wave, has already reported 1,500 cases and 90 deaths, the highest in the country. Delhi’s hospitals have also reported a dramatic increase in cases – some hospitals have 15 to 20 new cases a day, compared to an increase of one or two in the previous month. In Delhi and Bangalore, there are now waiting lists for bed bugs to treat.
Dr. Amit Thaha Had Ani, Director, Nirmamia Hospital, Mumbai, said that colleagues have started seeing cases of black fungus in severely cowardly patients. “Almost all patients are diabetic or immune patients,” he said.
In Delhi, Health Minister Stander Jain had on Friday said that 197 cases of black fungus had been found in hospitals across the city, and now special fungus wards have been set up in major government hospitals to deal with the influx of patients. Jane accused Kwid-19 of misusing steroids “very dangerous” to treat them as a cause of the epidemic.
Balaram Bhargaon, director of the Indian Council of Medical Research, said of the black fungus: “If a person’s immunity is suppressed, it will affect them. If the eggs have access to high sugar. [levels], It will increase. We’ve seen this happen to patients with diabetes and uncontrolled diabetes, who have had an immune contract or have been given immune pressure.
The epidemic is spreading fast. In Gujarat, there were 371 incidents in the state capital, Ahmedabad, and another 400 in Rajkot. There are six reported cases of mucormycosis in Goa so far. The first case was discovered in Kashmir on Friday.
The increase in cases has led to a shortage of drugs. On Thursday, the Delhi High Court asked the central government to procure anti-fungal drugs from “wherever it is available in the world; it is more important than time and so are human lives”. The government said the shortage was being addressed and pharmaceutical companies had been approved to manufacture injections.
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