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Serious fungal infection seen in some Covid patients with co-morbidities: Expert

Caused by a fungus called Mucorales, which is usually not known to affect humans, it is causing severe damage to patients during both treatment and after recovery, often necessitating urgent surgery to remove affected parts above the neck, according to experts.

Written by Vivek Deshpande | Nagpur |
April 28, 2021 1:40:13 am
mucormycosisEminent ENT surgeon Madan Kapre said that the infection spreads fast and causes fatality in up to 80 per cent of the cases. (Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

A medical condition called mucormycosis, a kind of fungal infection that can be life threatening, is emerging as a new problem associated with Covid-19 for patients who have diabetes and other co-morbidities like dental problems and cancer.

Caused by a fungus called Mucorales, which is usually not known to affect humans, it is causing severe damage to patients during both treatment and after recovery, often necessitating urgent surgery to remove affected parts above the neck, according to experts.

“The problem was not witnessed on such a big scale during the first Covid wave. But this time round, it has gone up multifold all over the country. Normally, we don’t have more than one or two such patients requiring surgeries in a year. But I had to do over 30 such surgeries in the last two months,” said eminent ENT surgeon Madan Kapre.

“Covid patients get heavy doses of steroids and antibiotics during hospitalisation, causing dip in immunity levels. Those with diabetes have sugar levels several times higher than normal, which severely compromises their immunity. So, many such patients get fungal infection both during the infection and after recovery. The infection affects several parts of the body like nose, eyes and even the brain, creating a gangrene-like situation and thus requiring removal of affected parts by surgery. I have removed the eyes of about 15 patients so far,” he added.

Kapre, who heads many national bodies of medical specialities, has organised an all-India webinar to discuss the new challenge and establish a standard protocol for treatment of mucormycosis-affected patients, on Friday.

The expert said that the infection spreads fast and causes fatality in up to 80 per cent of the cases.

Kapre further said, “Often, the surgeries have to be carried out when the Covid infection is still present, which also poses a risk the doctors. So it’s a very tricky matter.”

Chandrashekhar Bande, a dentist, said, “The fungal infection enters the body usually through the teeth and gums and then spreads very fast, often to the bones of the jaw, nose and those near eyes. The fungus completely destroys these bones, and often jaws and eyes of the patents have to be removed to save them. The infection also spreads to other parts of the body, leading to multi-organ failure.”

Dr Bande said, “This problem is largely seen in patients requiring more than 15 days of hospitalisation, which means after very heavy doses of steroid and antibiotics for prolonged period, and severe suppression of immunity.”

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