India Covid: Mumbai hospital starts psychiatric unit for black fungus patients

Mumbai - Some patients have to undergo traumatising amputations or physical disfigurements to prevent the spread of mucormycosis.

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By Web Report

Published: Sat 19 Jun 2021, 11:01 AM

The state-owned King Edward Memorial Hospital in Mumbai has started a dedicated psychiatric unit for patients suffering from mucormycosis, commonly known as black fungus.

The rapidly-spreading fungal infection is associated with high mortality and some patients have to undergo amputation or physical disfigurement to prevent the spread of the fungus.

“The sudden loss of a body part can be traumatising,” Dr Hemant Deshmukh, Dean, KEM, told a newspaper. “We not only need to counsel the patient but also their family to cope with such physical disability.”

“We have appointed eight psychiatrists for this ward. Sometimes we need to prepare a patient to accept the possibility of disfigurement because the severity of the infection is so high.”

If patients require amputation, their kin are also counselled before the surgery, he added.

Dr Siddhesh Shere, assistant professor in the psychiatry department, said the most common complaints are of insomnia, anxiety and depression among patients, especially those who were hospitalised for a long time.

“The difference between Covid-associated mucormycosis and any other chronic illness is that former’s onset is sudden and prognosis is severe,” he pointed out.

“A person does not get time to cope. For them, the first shock is of Covid-19 and the next of mucormycosis.”

Black fungus explainer: 4 facts you need to know about mucormycosis

There is growing concern in the medical community over the fact that black fungus is a secondary infection among many Covid-19 patients. Of the 7,000 cases registered in Maharashtra, over 600 patients have succumbed to it so far.

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