Sept 15 (IndiaToday) – A big spurt in cases of mucormycosis, or black fungus, among those infected with or recovered from Covid-19 in hospitals across India, has added to the medical community’s woes.
Gujarat, with 100 cases, has reported the highest number of confirmed cases, with Surat accounting for 40 cases (eight of whom lost their eyesight) in 15 days.
Maharashtra follows with 52 deaths and health minister Rajesh Tope says there could be 2,000 unconfirmed cases in the state. Others, like Rajasthan, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh, too, have been reporting a small number of cases.
India Today spoke to Dr Anita Mathew, infectious disease specialist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, Mumbai, about the disease. Excerpts:
What is the cause of mucormycosis and which organs can it infect?
Mucormycosis is a serious but rare fungal infection caused by a group of molds called ‘Mucormycetes’. Mucormycetes live throughout the environment and is ubiquitous in nature.
It can affect areas from where it can be inhaled—through the nose/ sinus/ lungs. If it enters from a wound or skin, then it can cause local infection, but if it enters from the sinus, it can affect the eyes and the brain. Poor control of diabetes is the biggest cause for the rising numbers, especially post-Covid.
Also, patients with immunocompromised systems, or those who have undergone a transplant, are on immunosuppressants, or have been on a ventilator for a long period of time, are at higher risk.
How can it be prevented?
The most effective way to prevent black fungus is to wear a mask while venturing out, especially to gardens and dusty areas or where you might come across rotting garbage or food. Secondly, wear clothes that don’t expose your skin or expose it as little as possible.
Most importantly, for diabetic and other immunocompromised people, controlling sugar levels and blood glucose is a must. People who have been prescribed steroids should be constantly monitored and the dosage should be reduced in consultation with your doctor.
How can it be treated?
Mucormycosis is a serious infection and needs to be treated using intravenous anti-fungal medicine, followed by oral anti-fungal medicines. In more serious cases, surgery is required.