India's coronavirus doctors report 'black fungus' infections among some patients

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Fox News 11 May, 2021 - 07:46am 45 views

Potentially fatal 'black fungus' infections on the rise in India's COVID-19 patients

Livescience.com 11 May, 2021 - 11:20am

For instance, in the state of Maharashtra, where Mumbai is located, 200 individuals caught mucormycosis after recovering from COVID-19, and eight have died from the black fungus, the Times reported, citing local news coverage. Cases are also appearing in the capital city of Delhi and in the state of Gujarat, where the state government has ordered 5,000 doses of the antifungal drug amphotericin B to treat the disease.

"We have heard that in some areas, people who are COVID-infected or recovered suffer from mucormycosis, but there is not a big outbreak of it," Dr. V.K. Paul, head of India's Covid task force, said at a press conference last week, according to the Times. "We are watching and monitoring."

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In addition, many families have had to treat relatives for COVID-19 at home, meaning people may become exposed to the mold after receiving medicine or oxygen therapy in less-than-sterile conditions, the Times reported.

In the early stages of infection, patients often present with a stuffy or bleeding nose; swollen eyes; droopy eyelids; or blurred vision, BBC News reported. Black patches can also appear on the skin around the nose.

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Indian authorities warn of rare fungal infection seen in some Covid-19 patients

CNBC 11 May, 2021 - 12:27am

As India grapples with a deadly second wave of coronavirus, authorities have warned of a rare fungal infection that can maim or even turn fatal if left uncared for.

Several media reports have said that doctors in the country are reporting cases of mucormycosis, informally known as "black fungus," among recovering or recovered Covid-19 patients in states like Maharashtra and Gujarat as well as in Delhi.

Mucormycosis is a "serious but rare fungal infection caused by a group of molds called mucormycetes," according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It most commonly affects the sinuses or the lungs after inhaling fungal spores from the air, but can also occur on the skin following an injury or in some instances affect the brain, the CDC said.

While the fungal infection is a separate condition from Covid, it is more common among people who have underlying health problems or are on medication that lowers their body's ability to fight germs. Researchers examining past murcormyscosis infections in India found that diabetes was the most common underlying disease, occurring in 54% to 76% of cases.

While the infection is treatable, the CDC estimates a mortality rate of around 50%, though it said that varies depending on underlying conditions, type of fungus and body site affected.

But the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said patients who have had prolonged stays in intensive care units or are immunosuppressed due to steroids can also be at risk.

Many severe Covid-19 patients in India are being treated with corticosteroids like dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory drug that also reduces the immune system's ability to fight infections and other disease to alleviate symptoms, making them more susceptible.

But a government official reportedly said last week that there is "no big outbreak" of the fungal infection in India.

ICMR issued an advisory over the weekend urging doctors and patients to look out for early symptoms.

Those include nasal congestion and discharge, one-sided facial pain, numbness or swelling, toothache and loosening of teeth, blurred or double vision, redness around eyes, fever, breathing difficulties as well as chest pains.

Treatment options include antifungal therapy, reducing or discontinuing steroids and other drugs that suppress the immune system while in more severe cases, surgery may be required to remove all necrotic tissues from the body, according to ICMR.

If left untreated for too long, it can lead to permanent damage, such as loss of eyesight, as well as death.

Mucormycosis was present in India even before the Covid-19 pandemic began last year. Official data is scarce due to the lack of population-based studies, but some researchers estimate the prevalence of mucormycosis is around 70 times higher in the country than the rest of the world.

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