As a deadly second wave of COVID-19 continues to ravage India, cases of mucormycosis, a rare life-threatening infection are being reported among COVID-19 patients. (Image: News18 Creative)
Mucormycosis is a fungal infection caused that was rare until recently. In the wake of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, India has seen an uptick in the number of COVID-19 patients suffering from Mucormycosis or Black Fungus. Maharashtra alone has recorded around 2,000 Black Fungus cases and eight deaths due to related complications.
So, what is Mucormycosis?
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Mucormycosis is a fungal infection that mainly affects people who are on medication for other health problems that reduce their ability to fight environmental pathogens.
Sinuses or lungs of such individuals get affected after fungal spores are inhaled from the air.
What are the symptoms of Mucormycosis?
Pain and redness around eyes and/or nose.
Shortness of breath
Blood in vomit
Altered mental status
Factors that may lead to Black Fungus infection:
Uncontrolled diabetes mellitus
Immunosuppression by steroids
Prolonged hospital stay
Co-morbidities – post-transplant/ malignancy
When to suspect Black Fungus infection in COVID-19 patients, diabetics, immunosuppressed persons:
Sinusitis: When the patient complains of nose blockage or congestion, and there’s black or bloody nasal discharge. There can be local pain on the cheekbone in some patients
Pain in one side of face culminating in numbness or swelling
Blackish discolouration over the bridge of nose/palate
Toothache along with loosening of teeth, jaw involvement
Blurred or double vision with pain
Thrombosis and necrosis
Chest pain, pleural effusion, haemoptysis, worsening respiratory distress
Dos and Don’ts to reduce risk of Mucormycosis:
Monitor blood glucose post-COVID-19 discharge and also in diabetics
Use steroids judiciously: Correct timing, doses, and duration
Use clean, sterile water in humidifiers during oxygen therapy
Use antibiotics/ antifungals judiciously
Do not overlook warning signs and symptoms
Do not consider all cases of blocked nose to be bacterial sinusitis, especially in the context of immunosuppressors and/or COVID-19 patients on immunomodulators
Do not hesitate to seek aggressive investigations, as appropriate (KOH staining and microscopy, culture, MALDI-TOF) for detecting fungal etiology.
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