Black fungus: Cases of post-Covid mucormycosis rising

AIIMS chief Randeep Guleria said mucormycosis was a horrible disease and in many cases would need complex surgery to remove the infected part, involving large teams of ENT specialists, brain surgeons and doctors

While the total number of mucormycosis infections is not yet known, more than 1,000 such cases have become the priority for the government, V K Paul, member, health, Niti Aayog, said on Saturday.

AIIMS director Randeep Guleria said there were 23 mucormycosis cases in AIIMS Delhi with 20 of them Covid positive, and 500 plus cases in some states.

Covid infection was a risk factor but the surge in these cases are also because of indiscriminate use of steroids and uncontrolled diabetes, Dr Guleria said. The outbreak of the black fungal infection has emerged as a new problem for the country.

The exact build up in the country is not yet known but the Indian Council of Medical Research has been collating data and the outbreak needs to be nipped in the bud as the country cannot afford to let the infection spread, he said. Medicine to treat the black fungus infection was available in the country and would be made available to states and would also be imported if needed, Paul said at briefing of the ministry of health and family welfare.

He warned against giving steroids to people in early-stage or with mild Covid infections. He also urged to limit the usage of steroids for five to 10 days and administer mild to moderate dosage to patients as it causes a spike in sugar levels, especially among diabetics.

Use of immunosuppressants in Covid patients, too, was leading to this fungal infection, he said. Guleria said mucormycosis was a horrible disease and in many cases would need complex surgery to remove the infected part, involving large teams of ENT specialists, brain surgeons and doctors.  Amphotericin B, the anti-fungal medicine prescribed for treating mucormycosis, was being manufactured domestically and would also be imported so there is no shortage, Paul assured.

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