Delhi hospital warns of alarming rise in Covid-induced black fungus

The treatment for black fungal infection can sometimes mean the amputation of a body part

Shweta Sharma
Friday 07 May 2021 10:49 BST
Doctors in Delhi have been detecting more cases of Covid-induced black fungus
Doctors in Delhi have been detecting more cases of Covid-induced black fungus (REUTERS)

A hospital in Delhi, the epicentre of coronavirus in India, has reported the resurgence of deadly Covid-induced black fungal infections in patients.

These types of infections can cause loss of sight and can lead to corrective measures such as the amputation of the affected area. According to Delhi doctors patients who contract black fungus only have a 50 percent survival rate.

The cases of black fungus, or mucormycosis, are being seen in more patients due to the fact that the number of Covid-19 cases are increasing, Dr Atul Gogia from Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital told The Independent.

“It happens when patients have high or uncontrollable sugar. We are seeing at least a case of mucormycosis every day but it is nothing unusual,” Dr Gogia said.

The rise of black fungal infection in Covid patients was flagged last year when 12 such cases were seen in just 15 days.

There have been six cases of mucormycosis in the past two days at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital alone, while cases are also being reported in other hospitals.

"We are seeing a rise again in this dangerous fungal infection triggered by Covid-19. Last year, this deadly infection caused high mortality with many patients suffering from the loss of eyesight and the removal of the nose and the jaw bone," Dr Manish Munjal, senior ENT surgeon at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said.

Mucormycosis is a rare but serious fungal infection that can affect any part of the body, caused by a group of molds called mucormycetes. It usually poses no serious harm to patients with a healthy immune system.

It mainly affects the brain, sinus, or eyes but can be found anywhere in the body. It mainly attacks individuals with low immune functions or increased blood sugar level, Dr Gaurav Kumar, a resident doctor at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital told The Independent.

“It is emerging as a significant challenge for doctors in the second wave of Covid-19. Some of the drugs used in the treatment of Covid-19 also suppress the immune system. Over judicious use of steroids shoot up the blood sugar level and those with uncontrollable sugar leading to increase chances of fungal infection,” he said.

It is more commonly found in post covid patients or who are on ventilatory support. If non-sterile water is used in a humidifier bottle connected to an oxygen tube then loads of microorganism can grow into it and pass into the body, causing infection in immune compromised patients, Dr Kumar said.

The symptoms of mucormycosis depend on the part of the body it has affected. The symptoms can sometimes go unnoticed at the initial stage or be confused with coronavirus symptoms.

Some of the common symptoms are unilateral facial swelling, headache, nasal congestion, black lesion spots on the upper angle of mouth or nasal bridge, rashes on skin, blisters, or blackish skin.

Delhi is at the centre of a crisis situation that is unfolding across India. The national capital has more than 90,000 active Covid cases with hospitals brimming to capacity and a shortage of oxygen.

India reported the highest 414,188 fresh cases in the last 24 hours and 3,915 deaths. The South Asian country is the only in the world to report above 400,000 cases. India has breached the mark thrice and for the second consecutive day on Thursday.

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