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Black fungus cases among Covid patients rise in Bengaluru, BMCRI begins research

Black fungus, or mucormycosis, often manifests in the skin and also affects the lungs and the brain.

Written by Darshan Devaiah BP | Bangalore |
May 11, 2021 8:28:14 pm
Karnataka covid newsA medic collects samples for COVID-19 tests at Bengaluru City Railway Station, amid surge in coronavirus cases. (Photo: PTI)

After Delhi, Maharashtra, Telangana and Gujarat, Karnataka is now reporting the occurrence of mucormycosis, or ‘black fungus’, in Covid-19 patients.

Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI) in the city is researching eight samples collected from recently infected patients who had shown the symptoms of black fungus.

A rare but serious fungal infection, mucormycosis or ‘black fungus’ is being detected relatively frequently among Covid-19 patients in some states. The disease often manifests in the skin and also affects the lungs and the brain.

According to doctors in BMCRI, the institute is researching the cases with the help of doctors from the government-run Minto Ophthalmic Hospital in the city. “In eight samples of black fungus, six people have succumbed to the mucormycosis and two people have lost their eyes permanently,” a doctor from the institute said.

Many hospitals and eye hospitals in Bengaluru have reported cases of black fungus, including Narayana Nethralaya, People Tree hospitals, Trust Well Hospital, Dr Agarwal’s Eye Hospital.

According to Trust Well Hospital, in the last two weeks, 38 people have been treated for black fungus infection in Bengaluru. A special unit has been set up at the hospital for the purpose of providing special care to the infected.

Dr Deepak Haldipur, head of the Department of Special Treatment of Mucormycosis at Trust Well Hospital, said that in Covid patients with diabetes, increased sugar level with steroid use increases fungal growth. Also, in some cases, steroid and high potency antibiotics are given. Some of these patients have reduced immunity due to its adverse effects. Then, that acts as fertile land for the fungus or mucormycosis, causing many complications.

“Incorrect use of life-saving steroids in Covid-19 cases without the advice of a doctor can increase the sugar level in diabetic patients. Also, this fungus increases in severity when immunity is reduced. This fungus can also occur in cases where the water used in the oxygen humidifier is not sterilized,” Dr Deepak Haldipur told Indianexpress.com.

Experts said a doctor should be contacted immediately if a patient experiences symptoms like pain in one side of the face, swelling/pain in the eyes, nausea, bleeding in the nose, loosening of teeth, black or brown spots on top of the mouth, and change in eyesight.

Speaking to Indianexpress.com, H V Madhusudhan, Maxillofacial Specialist at the Trust Well Hospital, said, “Over 15 black fungus surgeries have been performed at our hospital in the last two weeks. It was a silent killer infection, and in the first wave, only 33 patients were treated. However, this time it is very alarming that 38 people get infected in just two weeks.” He advised that those who are cured of Covid, especially those suffering from diabetes, should stay alert.

On Sunday, experts in the national Covid-19 task force had issued an evidence-based advisory on the disease. It said mucormycosis is caused by a group of moulds known as mucormycetes present naturally in the environment. It mainly affects people who are on medication for health problems that reduce their ability to fight environmental pathogens. Sinuses or lungs of such individuals get affected after they inhale fungal spores from the air.

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