After black fungus, Aspergillus fungus reported in Covid-19 patients in Uttarakhand
Amid the rising cases of mucormycosis or black fungus infection in Covid-19 patients, at least 11 cases of another fungal infection named aspergillus have been detected in Dehradun, officials said.
The cases of the fungal infection, which largely affects the lungs, have been detected in at least 10 Covid-19 patients admitted in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Experts said that the fungus becomes invasive in those with a weak immune system caused by Covid-19 infection. The experts, however, have found no relation between the fungus and Covid-19 infection so far.
Covid-19 nodal officer and pulmonologist at Government Doon Hospital in Dehradun, Dr Anurag Agrawal said that it is not a new fungus and is known to the medical world for the last 30-40 years.
“People who are old patients of tuberculosis (TB) or are suffering from Asthma are more susceptible to this fungus. In the case of TB, sometimes there is a cavity in the lungs of the patients in which this fungus starts developing in the form of a ball. Similarly, for those suffering from Asthma, this fungus causes allergy,” said Dr Agrawal, adding that “about 15 days ago, a patient with the fungal infection had come to him in at Government Doon Hospital.”
He informed that Aspergillus fungus becomes invasive in the lungs when the immune system of a person is weak.
“Amid this Covid-19 pandemic, this fungus is becoming invasive because of certain factors like a prolonged stay in the ICU, high dosage of steroids or immuno-suppressants which lower the immunity. In a serious condition, it causes a disease named Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis (ABPA) which is treated with a drug named Voriconazole,” said Dr Agrawal.
Informing on its mortality rate, he said that if not treated on time, the fungus can cause death as it has a mortality rate of about 20%. “It majorly affects the lungs,” he said.
Another Dehradun-based pulmonologist and Covid-19 nodal officer, Dr Jagdish Rawat, while speaking on the Aspergillus infection, said that out of about 100 Covid-19 patients admitted in his hospital’s ICU, at least 10 have been detected with it.
“This fungus is affecting the lungs of those Covid-19 patients who have high blood sugar level like in the case of black fungus. However, those Covid-19 patients who have recovered, are also vulnerable to it as their immune system is weakened,” he said.
Dr Rawat said, “Covid-19 patients who have recovered but feel something unusual in the chest or during breathing should immediately consult the doctors and undergo proper tests to detect this fungal infection. Timely treatment is the key to contain the infection.”