There is a spike in black fungus in covid patients in India. It was discovered when Dr. Akshay Nair, who is an eye surgeon in Mumbai, was about to operate a 25-year-old woman. The lady who had recovered from COVID for around three weeks was about to undergo surgery.
Before the eye surgery, a throat, nose, and ear specialist was working on the diabetic patient. A tube was put into her nose to remove the tissues that had the presence of mucormycosis, which is a dangerous rare fungal infection. It can affect the eyes, nose, and at times even the brain.
Once Dr. Nair’s colleague did his work, another three-hour procedure took place to remove the eye of the patient. According to Dr. Nair, it is the only way to save a person’s life. He also added that the disease work in this manner.
As deadly as the second wave of COVID-19 has affected India, doctors are worried about the spread of the black fungus in COVID patients. It is seen in patients who have recovered or are in the process of recovering.
What is mucormycosis?
Black fungus in COVID patients is recently observed in India. It is a rare infection that happens when someone is exposed to mucor mold. The mold is usually present in decaying fruits, vegetables, manure, plants, and soil. According to Dr. Nair, it is present in the mucus and nose of healthy people.
Usually, this affects the lungs, brain, and sinuses of a person. In immunocompromised individuals and diabetics, it can life-threatening.
Dr. Nair’s opinion about black fungus in covid patients
According to some doctors, mucormycosis will have a mortality rate of 50%. And this can be the result of steroid use, which is saving the lives of critically ill and severe COVID patients.
The use of steroids is working effectively to treat COVID-19 patients. They can reduce lung inflammation and even help in reducing a body’s immune system damage. However, the steroids are increasing the blood sugar levels in non-diabetic and diabetic COVID patients.
Some studies are suggesting that the reduction in immunity levels can trigger mucormycosis in covid patients.
Dr. Nair said that diabetes could reduce the defenses of the immune system. Further, coronavirus has exacerbated it, and the use of steroids helps in fighting COVID-19 is acting like fuel to fire.
Mumbai is one of the worst-hit cities in India in the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Nair is based in Mumbai and is associated with three hospitals and has seen 40 patients have the black fungus since April. And maximum of them were diabetes patients who have recovered COVID-19 from home. Out of them, eleven had to undergo an eye surgery removal.
Six of Dr. Nair’s colleagues from Pune, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Mumbai between December and February had reported 58 cases of black fungus. Also, they have said that the patients have contracted this disease after 12 to 15 days after they recovered from COVID-19.
Other doctors’ opinions about black fungus
Dr. Renuka Bradoo, who is the head of Sion Hospital in Mumbai, said that there is a report of 24 cases of fungal infection in the last months.
It is seen that six of them lost their lives, and eleven of them lost an eye. Also, she added that most of them were diabetic middle-aged patients. They were all struck by the infection two weeks after their recovery from COVID-19. Further, she continued by saying that they were seeing two to three cases in a week. Dr. Renuka concluded that it is indeed a nightmare in the pandemic.
Dr. Raghyraj Hegde, who is an eye surgeon in Bengaluru, had a similar experience. The doctor said he had seen around 19 black fungus in covid patients within a duration of two weeks. Also, he said that they were primarily young patients and were too ill to be operated on.
Some doctors are in complete astonishment with the frequency and severity of the fungal infection in coronavirus second wave in comparison to the first.
Dr. Nair also said that he did see this fungal infection before, but this year it is absolutely different.
However, Dr. Hedge from Bengaluru says that he has never seen over one or two fungal infections in his entire practicing career.
Symptoms and signs of the black fungus
The patients are complaining of bleeding or stuffy nose after being affected by the mucor mold. There can be pain and swelling in the eyes, eyelids drooping, then blurred vision, and lastly, loss of eyesight. Moreover, with this fungal infection, people may also get black patches of skin around the nose.
Some doctors are complaining that patients are arriving late and in a position where they are on the verge of losing their eyesight. Besides, doctors have to remove the eyes to block the spread of the infection to the brain.
Doctors in India have said that many of their patients have lost up to two eyes as well. However, in some conditions, the jaw bone also had to be removed to block the fungal infection from spreading.
The intravenous anti-fungal injection costs around $48, which is around 3500 INR for one dose can treat this fungal infection. And this dose has to be given for a span of eight weeks daily, and only this is effective against the fungal infection.
A possible solution to stop the spread of black fungus
According to a diabetologist, Dr. Rahul Baxi, the only way to stop the spread of mucormycosis is by keeping a check and controlling the steroid dosage and duration in COVID-19 patients.
He further adds that none of the patients has suffered from this disease. Dr. Baxi continued by saying that he has treated around 800 diabetic patients who COVID-19 contracted, and none of them have got this infection. Moreover, he suggests that all doctors must keep a check on the sugar levels after the diabetic patient has recovered from COVID.
According to a government official, he says that it is not a major outbreak. But it is tough to fathom why there is an increase in mucormycosis in the entire country.