While we make every effort to protect ourselves from and cope with COVID-19, there is another threat posed by a fungus that we must be aware of and address. Mucormycosis, a fungal infection, has been reported in a few COVID-19 patients who are currently recovering or have recently recovered.
According to a statement made two days ago by Maharashtra’s Health Minister, the state had already seen over 2000 cases of this fungal infection, with ten people succumbing to it. Several patients have even lost their sight.
Causes of Mucormycosis
Mucormycosis or black fungus is a fungal infection complication. Mucormycosis is captured by contact with fungal spores in the environment. It may also develop on the cutting, scraping, burning or other skin traumas on the skin after the fungus enters the skin.
The disease is detected in patients recovering or recovering from COVID-19. In addition, anyone who is diabetic and whose immune system does not work well has to be vigilant.
The following conditions in COVID-19 patients increase the risk of mucormycosis infection according to a consultation issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research:
Immune system weakening due to steroid use
ICU/hospital stay extended
Co-morbidity / transplantation of post organ / cancer
Voriconazole (used to treat severe fungal infections) therapy
As long as the infection may start with a skin infection, it may spread to other parts of the body. Treatment involves the surgical removal of all tissues that are dead and infected. This may lead to loss of the upper jaw in some patients or even of the eye. The cure may also involve intravenous anti-fungal therapy for 4-6 weeks. Because it has an impact on different parts of the body, treatment requires a team of microbiologists, specialists in internal medicine, neurologists, NET experts, ophthalmologists, dentists, surgeons and others.
Diabetes control is one of the most important prevention methods suggested by the ICMR. COVID-19 patients with diabetes must therefore be given utmost care.
The self-medication and overdose of steroids may lead to fatal events and therefore the prescription of a doctor should be followed closely. Speaking to Member (Health) of NITI Aayog on negative effects of inadequate use of steroids, Dr V.K. Paul says: “Steroids should never be given at the early stage of COVID-19. It should only be taken after the infection on the sixth day. Patients should stick to appropriate doses of the medicines and take the medicine as recommended by doctors, for a certain number of days. Rational use of medicines to avoid adverse side effects of the medicine should be ensured.”
“Itolizumab also suppresses the immune system except for steroids, the use of COVID-19 medicines like Tocilizumob. And if these medicines are not used properly, the risk increases, since our immune system does not fight against fungal infection.” Dr Paul adds. He adds.
In its guidance, COVID-19 patients were also advised by the ICMR to discontinue immunomodulatory drugs, which stimulate or eradicate the immune system. In order to prevent such adverse effects, the National COVID-19 Task Force reviewed the dosage of Tocilizumab. Proper hygiene can also contribute to the removal of the fungal infection.
The water in the humidifier should be clean and regularly refilled for patients on oxygen therapy. Be careful to ensure that there is no water leakage (to avoid wet surfaces where the fungus can breed). Patients should keep their hands and body clean by maintaining adequate hygiene.
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