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Punjab: 116 cases of mucormycosis at PGI in May; early treatment essential, say docs

Prof. Jagat Ram, Director, PGI, says that while Covid-19 cases are decreasing, their ICU beds are still occupied, as mucormycosis patients need ICU care after surgery.

Written by Parul | Chandigarh |
May 29, 2021 5:38:01 am
Punjab: 116 cases of mucormycosis at PGI in May; early treatment essential, say docsAccording to the doctors, 90 per cent of patients are diabetic, for the glycemic index is not in control and an indiscriminate use of steroids, extra dosage than prescribed, to treat Covid-19, has caused an increase of mucormycosis. (Express Photo by Amit Chakravarty)

LAST YEAR, PGI had treated a total of 61 patients of mucormycosis during the first wave of Covid-19. This year, in May alone, there have been 116 cases — seven from Chandigarh, 62 from Punjab, 11 from Uttar Pradesh, three each from Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and four from Rajasthan.

New patients, most of them serious and critically suffering from mucormycosis are being admitted to the institute daily.

In the last few days, says Professor Naresh K Panda, head of Otolaryngology at PGI, the department had been seeing close to 15 patients a day. Friday was, fortunately, a better day, with the early part of the morning seeing only two admissions.

“We are operating close to six patients in the Covid Hospital, and two to four in the Nehru Hospital. As a department head, I want to give credit to our team, especially residents, who have been working with dedication, devotion, without any breaks and tirelessly. They are and doing a commendable job in saving so many lives. They are working against odds, including drug shortage and a rising case load, which puts pressure on resources. A surgery, with anesthesia, may go on for as long as four hours, and this team effort has resulted in helping us deal with a number of odds, and in keeping the mortality rate low, to about 10 per cent. Of course, in very serious cases, there is a 40 per cent chance that there is a loss of the eye,” says Prof. Panda.

The doctor adds that they have seen an orbital involvement in patients, and rapid progression of the disease is seen in Covid-19 infected and recovering patients, and it causes devitalisation of the tissues, blurred vision and in some cases loss of vision.

“A lot of dead tissues have to be removed by surgery, and we are seeing Covid patients, who have recovered completely, reporting the infection after about 15 days, with nasal obstruction, pain in the face, swelling and pain in the eye, blurred vision, being the common symptoms. Many come to us very late. To save lives and vision, we have to address mucormycosis early,” says Prof. Panda.

Prof. Jagat Ram, Director, PGI, says that while Covid-19 cases are decreasing, their ICU beds are still occupied, as mucormycosis patients need ICU care after surgery.

The shortage of drugs is adding to the issue.

“We are doing 8 to 10 surgeries a day, and the doses from the Centre are too few, but we are managing. It is all due to the complete dedication of our doctors. The second wave has seen patients who have recovered from Covid-19 and developed the disease. Some who are currently Covid positive are also suffering from mucormycosis. The disease affects the sinuses, brain, lungs, eyes and can be life-threatening in diabetic or immunocompromised patients. We at the institute are seeing more cases of rhino-orbital mucormycosis and only one or two of pulmonary, which is tougher to eliminate,” explained Prof.

Ram, adding that nasal obstruction, pain in the face, swelling and pain in the eye, blurred vision, are some of the common symptoms.

According to the doctors, 90 per cent of patients are diabetic, for the glycemic index is not in control and an indiscriminate use of steroids, extra dosage than prescribed, to treat Covid-19, has caused an increase of mucormycosis.

“While new Covid cases have come down, those who have been on prolonged use of steroids, are diabetic or immunosuppressed, are developing the disease. With now more awareness about the causes of the disease and also how early treatment is paramount, we can hope for a decrease in cases in the coming weeks,” said Prof. Ram.

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