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Mucormycosis: Fungal Infection Stalking COVID Patients?

Photo credits: Madhav K, EPS
Highlights:
  • A sporadic yet lethal fungal infection – Mucormycosis hounding COVID patients all the way from Ahmedabad to Delhi.
  • Doctors attending to COVID-19 patients are observing cases of mucormycosis, in several parts of the country, in the last 15 days.

Doctors at infirmaries in Delhi have reported multiple cases of a sporadic fatal fungal infection in patients, which they attest was triggered by Covid-19. The fungal infection, AKA mucormycosis, so far has caused patients to lose their ability to see and decipher things.

Alarmingly, in the last few weeks, ENT surgeons at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH), Delhi have seen 13 new cases of ‘COVID-19-triggered mucormycosis’.

This daunting situation, as a matter of fact, is not new. What’s new is COVID-19 triggering mucormycosis, doctors explained. Black Fungus or mucormycosis has been a cause of disease and death of patients in transplants, and ICU and immunodeficient individuals for the longest time now. However, it is the rapid increase in the numbers seen in unsuspected recovering COVID-19 patients that is causing the grave concern, the SGRH entrenched in an official statement.

Specialists at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi have diagnosed Mucormycosis in about 12 patients. The results declare the loss of eyesight, affected nose, and jaw bone. Until today, mortality is currently ranged down to 50 percent (five patients), with certain deaths when there is the involvement of the brain, the hospital authorities confirmed.

What Is Mucormycosis Afterall?

Mucormycosis – fungal infection AKA the zygomycosis, this rare but pernicious fungal infection is caused by a group of molds known as mucormycetes. These molds are present free and unaffected in the environment naturally. However, it may also affect humans when the body’s immune system has been weakened and it is vulnerable. It triggers the lungs and the sinuses following insufflation of fungal spores from the air. The fungus can also enter the body through open wounds and cuts.

“These fungi aren’t harmful to most people. However, for people who have weakened immune systems, breathing in mucormycete spores can cause an infection in the lungs or sinuses which can spread to other parts of the body,” the CDC writes.

The CDC also propounded that Mucormycosis is not infectious. That means, it cannot transmit between people and animals. “Early recognition, diagnosis, and prompt administration of appropriate antifungal treatment are important for improving outcomes for patients with mucormycosis,” the CDC also stated.

Also read: New Covid-19 Variant Strikes UK

Updates, So Far…

In Delhi, doctors had to do these resections in about 10 patients over the last fortnight, with “about 50 percent losing their eyesight permanently”. Five of these patients required critical care support due to associated complications. There also have been five mortalities so far in this subgroup, the statement said. According to Manish Munjal, senior ENT surgeon, at the hospital, “The frequency with which we are witnessing the occurrence of COVID-19-triggered mucormycosis with high morbidity and mortality has never been seen before and is shocking and alarming.”

Varun Rai, consultant ENT surgeon at SGRH claimed, “Early clinical suspicion on symptoms such as nose obstruction, swelling in the eye or cheeks, and black dry crusts in the nose should immediately prompt the conduct of a biopsy in the OPD and start of the antifungal therapy as early as possible.”

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.

A 32-year-old man from West Delhi had contracted Covid-19 and had been hospitalized. He had been discharged with a negative test after seven days. But he had a nagging obstruction in his left nose which eventually led to his eye swelling up in 2 days.

He sought medical care again and it was diagnosed that he had caught Mucormycosis. When he was brought to the hospital, his vision had already started deteriorating and he was in a partially disoriented state because his left side had started going numb.

Diagnostic tests revealed that the fungus had already affected his sinuses, nose, and jawbones and had also made its way to the brain. The doctors at the hospital managed to save his life but he is still on life support medication. SGRH doctors said that he will be discharged soon.

A joint team of ENT and eye surgeons at Ganga Ram Hospital managed to save his life, but he continues to be on antifungal medication and critical care support. He will soon be discharged “in a survivable, but a disfigured state”, the case study quoted in the press release said.

~Inputs by Times Now.

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