India Covid crisis: Surge in black fungus raises alarm in Delhi

New Delhi - Over 90 per cent of mucormycosis patients are diabetics with steroid intake.

By Web Report

Published: Sat 15 May 2021, 1:42 PM

Last updated: Sat 15 May 2021, 1:43 PM

Doctors have to be prepared for a spurt in mucormycosis or black fungus, a rare fungal infection, including among Covid-19 patients. Dr Randeep Guleria, director, All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) said on Saturday there was an urgent need to control and monitor blood sugar levels of Covid patients.

Over 90 per cent of mucormycosis patients are diabetics with steroid intake. “Hospitals in Gujarat have set up more than one ward just to manage patients with mucormycosis and are now forming combined teams with infectious disease specialists, ENT surgeons, neurosurgeons and plastic surgeons to operate upon these persons,” he said. “Almost all patients had taken steroids. More than 90-95 per cent were diabetics. Covid itself leads to lymphopenia, predisposing patients to opportunistic fungal infections.”

According to him, there are nearly 20 patients with mucormycosis at AIIMS Delhi. Unlike in the first wave of the pandemic, fungal infection develops even in patients who are battling Covid, he added. “We are seeing mucormycosis happening now even when the patient is Covid positive,” revealed the AIIMS chief. “During the first wave, it would occur later on. Now, we are having two sets of patients: Covid patients with mucormycosis who we are keeping in the Covid ward, and those who become Covid negative and continue to have mucormycosis. And the management strategy becomes even more challenging because of these two sets of patients.”

Health minister Harsh Vardhan has also urged people about the early detection and management of mucormycosis, which has been reported among many Covid-19 patients in Maharashtra.

The Indian Council of Medical Research said several conditions in Covid-19 patients increase the risk of mucormycosis infections. They include uncontrolled diabetes, weakening of the immune system due to use of steroids, prolonged ICU/hospital stay, co-morbidities, post-organ transplant or cancer, and Voriconazole therapy, which is used to treat serious fungal infections.

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