India blindsided by the black fungus, records over 4,300 deaths

Patients and their bystanders are seen at the district government hospital in Eluru, Andhra Pradesh state, India. | Photo: AP

India – India as of today, has reported 45,374 cases of the rare and dangerous infection called mucormycosis and has recorded over 4,300 deaths.

Doctors say the fungus has a link with the steroids used to treat Covid, and diabetics are at particular risk. Steroids reduce inflammation in the lungs for Covid-19 and appear to help stop some of the damage that can happen when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive to fight off the coronavirus. But they also reduce immunity and push up blood sugar levels in both diabetics and non-diabetic Covid-19 patients.

It is believed that this drop in immunity could be triggering cases of mucormycosis in diabetics or severely immunocompromised individuals, such as cancer patients or people with HIV/Aids. Doctors say that anti-fungal injections are the only drug effective against the disease.

Doctors said that many patients had died from the disease even before reaching a hospital and a number of treated and recovered patients appeared to be suffering from a relapse.

This rare fungal infection, mucormycosis is currently spreading at a fast pace in neighbouring country India. The two states of India, Maharashtra and Gujarat are currently at the top for this disease. Reports show that some patient who consult the doctor due to symptoms have already lost their sight and some have had to remove their eye ball altogether.

Mucormycosis is a very rare fungal infection. It is caused by exposure to mucor mould which is commonly found in soil, plants, manure, and decaying fruits and vegetables. It affects the sinuses, the brain and the lungs and can be life-threatening in diabetic or severely immunocompromised individuals, such as cancer patients or people with HIV/AIDS.

Sinuses or lungs of such individuals get affected after they inhale fungal spores from the air. Doctors in some states have noted a rise in cases of mucormycosis among people hospitalized or recovering from Covid 19, with some requiring urgent surgery.