There is an outbreak of the ‘Black Fungus’ infection in India. Black Fungus is medical terminology is known as ‘Mucormycosis’. The infection is caused by a group of moulds called ‘mucormycetes’. These moulds are present in the air and cause complications when a patient inhales the moulds. The rise in these black fungus cases is linked to the Covid-19 virus.
Different Variants of Mucormycosis
Mucormycosis(black fungus) is an airborne vector disease. Inhaled, the ‘mucormycetes’ spread to the sinus cavities, lungs and chest cavities. The symptoms of the black fungus include eye pain, face-swelling, bleeding nose and lesions.
Mucormycosis is one of the rare ENT diseases that has a high mortality rate. There are three variants of the black fungus infection being reported with links to Covid-19. These variants also signify the progression of the disease. High iron content, low oxygen content, usage of steroids and low immunity cause the infection.
In sinonasal mucormycosis, the infection starts near the nose. The infection affects the nose and the paranasal sinuses around the sensory organ. If it spreads to the brain, it proves to be fatal.
The eye is the other sensory organ where the infection could originate. It originates in the orbital cavity, the cavity in which the eye resides. It affects the sinus cavities around the organ similar to the sinonasal mucormycosis. This turns fatal if the infection reaches the brain.
In this variant, the infection spreads from the sinuses that can spread to the brain. This form of mucormycosis is common in people with uncontrolled diabetes. It also occurs in people who had a kidney transplant.
Covid Link to the Black Fungus Infection
Recovered Covid-19 patients are showing reportedly being diagnosed with the black fungus infection. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), four types of people are likely to be infected by the disease.
Normally, the disease is caused in people with low immunity. The ICMR has put four groups of people to be the most vulnerable post-treatment for Covid-19.
- People who used steroids during their Covid-19 treatment. Using steroids reduced their immunity.
- People who had a prolonged stay in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospitals and are yet to recover from the virus.
- Diabetic people or people with a history of kidney and heart failure are prone to the infection.
- The other vulnerable group is people on medication for major health problems. This reduces their ability to fight pathogens.
People can protect themselves from the infection – by wearing masks at all times, wearing shoes and gloves when they step outdoors and maintaining thorough hygiene.
States Reporting Black Fungus Infections
The states have cumulatively reported over 200 cases of black fungus infections in the country. More than nine states have reported cases of fungal infection. Fighting the mucormycosis alongside Covid-19 is going to put a huge strain on hospital resources.
Rajesh Tope, the state health minister of Maharashtra has made an alarming claim on the situation of black fungus infections. He said that Maharashtra could have as many as 2000 cases of black fungus. The state government has decided to use hospitals attached to medical colleges to treat mucormycosis.
On 12 May 2021, Maharashtra reported 2 deaths caused by black fungus. Six patients were undergoing treatment for the infection in Thane.
Gujarat has reported the greatest number of black fungus cases. So far, the state government reported more than 100 cases of infection. Many patients became blind after being infected. The Gujarat government is setting up separate wards in hospitals for black fungus patients. It has ordered 500 vials for medicine for treatment.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan said over 50 cases of black fungus were detected in the state. He said the state will roll out detailed protocols for black fungus treatment.
Vishwash Kailash Sarang, the medical education minister speaking to News 18 stated that the state is on high alert. It will establish special treatment units in Gandhi Medical College, Bhopal and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Medical College in Jabalpur.
Karnataka is reporting black fungus cases in Covid-19 patients and survivors. There is no official figure on the number of infections in the state. The Karnataka government is seeking more details from health experts.
The state Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar said, “I had a discussion with the technical advisory committee and the clinicians to submit a detailed report on Black Fungus in two days. Based on that, we will take a call.”
The Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI) is researching eight samples collected from recently infected patients. A doctor from the institute said that samples were collected from eight patients. Of the eight patients, six succumbed to the infection and two people permanently lost their eyesight.
There is no statement by the Delhi government on the black fungus situation in the state. Doctors have flagged the increases in black fungus cases in December last year. They saw 12 cases in 15 days.
According to senior ENT surgeon at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Dr Manish Munjal, Delhi is again witnessing a spike in black fungus cases in Covid-19 patients.
He said, “We are seeing a rise in this dangerous fungal infection triggered by Covid-19 again. In the last two days, we have admitted 6 cases of mucormycosis. Last year this deadly infection caused high mortality with many patients suffering from loss of eyesight, removal of nose and jaw bone.”
Other states are reporting a rise in cases. Chhattisgarh reportedd there are more than 15 black fungus infections. Rajasthan reported 14 cases and Uttar Pradesh has 3 cases of black fungus.
To control the black fungus infection, the Central government decided to ramp up the production of Amphotericin B. The drug is used to treat patients suffering from mucormycosis. The Centre said the supply of medicine is expected to improve with extra imports and an increase in domestic production.