In recent development, Black Fungus has been declared an epidemic in 4 states. Due the sudden rise in the cases of mucormycosis or Black Fungus, the Centre has issued guidelines on early detection and prevention of the disease. This comes after several COVID-19 recovered patients across the nation are reporting being infected by the new fungal infection.
4 States Declare Black Fungus as Epidemic
On Thursday, May 20, the Centre asked states where Black Fungus cases are rising to declare the disease as epidemic and make it notifiable under the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897. The government also urged the states and union territories to make it compulsory for all state govt and private hospitals to register all suspected and confirmed cases.
In Centre’s response, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Gujarat, Chandigarh declared Black Fungus as an epidemic. 2 states: Rajasthan and Telangana had already declared the fungal infection as epidemic.
Before this development, Maharashtra saw a sudden increase in mucormycosis cases with as many as 90 casualties and over 1,500 new cases. The number comes from Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope estimating the number mentioned above.
According to NDTV, Gujarat is also estimated to have 600 new cases while Madhya Pradesh and Telangana are suspected to have 420 and 300 Black Fungus cases respectively. Meanwhile in Delhi, estimates are made to be around 250 cases and 1 death.
AIIMS Issues guidelines for detection and prevention of black fungus
On May 20, AIIMS Ophthalmic Studies Centre released fresh guidelines for detection and prevention black fungus in COVID-19 wards. These guidelines are intended for both high-risk patients in COVID-19 wards and for patients and their caretakers who have recovered.
— Dr Harsh Vardhan (@drharshvardhan) May 14, 2021
Who are the ‘high-risk patients as per Centre’s new guidelines?
According the guidelines, high-risk patients are those who:
1. Have uncontrolled diabetes, diabetics on steroids or tocillzumab.
2. Patients who are taking treatment for cancer and are on immunosuppressants.
3. Patients with chronic illness.
4. Severe COVID-19 patients.
5. Patients relying on supplemental oxygen – those who take support from mask, prongs or ventilator.
What are the symptoms patients and support givers need to be aware of?
1. Abnormal black coloured discharge, crust or bleeding from nose.
2. Nasal blockage, pain in the eyes and head, swollen eyes, redness of eye, double vision or loss of vision, problems in closing eye and difficulty in opening them.
3. Tingling sensation over the face, numbness over the face, inability to chew or open mouth.
4. Facial numbness or tingling sensation, difficulty in chewing or opening the mouth.
What are the preventive measures if a patient identifies these symptoms?
1. It’s of importance that instead of self-medicating themselves with steroids, patients should consult ENT doctors or ophthalmologist.
2. They must follow the course of treatment and have follow-ups. In the meantime, they must keep an eye on blood sugar levels.
3. They must not self-medicate themselves with antifungal steroids or drugs.
4. They should get an MRI or CT scan on the advice of the doctor.
What is Black Fungus?
Black Fungus or mucormycosis is a fungal infection. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the infection has an alarming mortality rate which stands at 54%. However, it should be noted that like most diseases and infections, the mortality depends on person’s condition, their body and how early they were able to identify the disease.
There are several cases in India which show that one of the grave consequences of this infection is loss of eye sight. It’s because the fungus starts growing inside the eye starts compressing its optic nerve.
Where does black fungus come from?
The main cause of the black fungus is a fungi group called the mucormycetes. The fungi are present in the form of molds at wet surfaces like animal dung, leaves, compost, wet soil, etc.