Black fungus also maiming asymptomatic Covid patients: Study
The study is being conducted by the medicine department of Dayanand Medical College and Hospital; repeatedly reusing masks is a major contributing factor say experts
With thousands of people successfully beating the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), only to be maimed by the “deadlier” mucormycosis or black fungus, Dayanand Medical College and Hospital is looking into the causes behind spurt in cases of this formerly rare fungal infection.
The study, which is being conducted by the hospital’s medicine department, has so far revealed that even asymptomatic Covid patients, who required neither hospitalisation nor oxygen support, had been afflicted.
DMCH medicine professor and member of Punjab’s Covid task force Dr Rajesh Mahajan, who is heading the study, says, “It was found that repeatedly reusing old masks that are often teeming with bacteria and moisture is responsible for rising black fungus cases among recovering Covid patients whose immunity has taken a hit.”
Industrial oxygen not to blame
“Excessive steam inhalation at home and injuries sustained while being put on oxygen support were also found to be contributing factors,” Mahajan said, adding that study had found that use of industrial oxygen was not responsible for the rise in cases.
On why a formerly rare infection had suddenly started afflicting so many people, Mahajan said, “Mucormycosis is not an unknown phenomenon as the fungus is found in the environment. Earlier, too, we were receiving cases of the disease. However, its prevalence has increased amid the pandemic, especially among patients suffering from uncontrolled diabetes.”
The virus causes weakness and lowers the immunity level, which is responsible for the greater prevalence of mucormycosis, he said.
“It is an ongoing study. So far, we have studied nearly 100 cases,” said Dr Mahajan.
Civil surgeon Dr Kiran Ahluwalia says overuse of immunosuppressants, especially when taken without consulting a specialist, were responsible for rising cases amid Covid patients.
48 active cases
Two more black fungus cases were reported in the district on Sunday, which has taken the case count to 94. There are now 48 active cases in the district. Twelve patients — four from Ludhiana and eight from other districts — have succumbed to the fungal infection.