Black fungus Mucormycosis maiming COVID positive patients in Hyderabad
Hyderabad: Doctors at Continental Hospitals have come across Covid-19 positive patients who are suffering from Mucormycosis, a deadly fungal infection, posing as a silent killer. In the past 3-4 weeks, a total of 5 patients have been reported with this infection at Continental Hospitals, indicating a rise in the condition among the people of Hyderabad.
As per the doctors, prolonged hospitalization and continuous use of corticosteroids, which has become standard for Covid-19 treatment is resulting in lowering the immune system. And this could lead to susceptibility to infections like Mucormycosis. This infection could cause irreversible damage to organs and threatening life of infected patients.
Commenting on symptoms, Dr Dushyanth Ganesuni, Consultant, ENT, Head & Neck Surgeon & Laryngologist, Continental Hospitals said, "Swelling around the eyes, one-sided facial or eye pain, decreased sensation over cheeks, blood-stained nasal discharge, among others, are symptoms of Mucormycosis infection and should report such cases immediately for medical attention. Such patients will be administered with certain antifungal drugs or a surgical debridement will be performed depending on the condition to reduce the disease burden."
"Unjustified and self-prescribed use of antibiotics and steroids to treat Covid-19 symptoms is dangerous. Such a practice will affect the immune system and could lead to secondary infections like Mucormycosis. Hence, even for conditions like fevers, cold, cough, it is suggested one seeks medical advice before resorting to any form of self-medication," added Dr Dushyanth Ganesuni.
Several studies from around the world have indicated that secondary fungal infections among critically ill Covid-19 positive patients are in the range of 5-23%; while the mortality rate among these fungus-infected patients increases to 53% from 31% in non-infected Covid-19+ve patients. In India, at least 40 cases of Mucormycosis, also known as black fungus, have been reported from Surat in Gujarat among those who have recovered from Covid-19. Of the 40 patients identified, eight have lost their eyesight, and it is being attributed to this secondary infection.
The treating doctors and ICU specialists should be aware of this condition and a high degree of suspicion is needed particularly in patients with severe Covid-19 infection with other associated risk factors. This entity is particularly evident in the middle and later stages of the disease. Rational use of steroids, strict control of blood sugars, to maintain nasal hygiene by using saline isotonic nasal spray, and to use 0.5% Betadine nasal drops 2 drops in both nostrils twice/thrice daily as a prophylactic treatment in these patients is recommended only under medical supervision.