Karnataka forms task force on black fungus, so far identifies 97 cases in state
Bengaluru The Karnataka government has indentified at least 97 cases of mucormycosis or black fungus from across the state, K Sudhakar, the minister for health, family welfare and medical education said on Monday.
“Compared to normal years, this (black fungus) has been seen in quite a few people,” Sudhakar said on Monday. He added that the disease should not be compared to Covid-19 or believe that it can transmit in the same fashion as Covid-19.
In a bid to contain the spread of black fungus across the state, the government has formed a specialised task force comprising ENT specialists, microbiologists and other senior officials from the government that will be headed by HS Satish, the head of the department for ENT at state-run Victoria Hospital.
The new infection comes amid a raging Covid-19 pandemic that has thrown life out gear in the state as well as the country for over a year now.
The disease is said to appear in those persons who have immunocompromised conditions like cancer, HIV and other problems, the minister said. Sudhakar said that even Covid-19 infected persons with uncontrolled diabetes and are given higher steroids can contract the disease.
“The fungus enters through the nasal cavity in persons with low immunity. Then it will attack eyesight. One should get treatment immediately after it enters the nose. It is learnt that the water used in humidifiers in hospitals is causing this. (An) experts panel has been set up to find out the exact cause of this disease. Measures will be taken after the expert committee submit its report,” Sudhakar said.
“This is a notified disease and all private hospitals, ENT specialists should inform the government if such cases are discovered. This information cannot be kept private and must be informed to the government. Hiding it from the government is against the law,” the minister added.
Drugs like Amphotericin B are used to treat the disease. The supply of the drug, however, is controlled by the centre and it has so far allocated 1050 vials to Karnataka, the minister said, of which the state had received 450 till date.
Several states in India have reported a high number of black fungus cases that has added to the panic amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sudhakar said that the government has placed orders for around 20,000 vials of the medicine along with two other drugs, which are also effective against black fungus.
The minister said that at least five centres across Karnataka which includes Bengaluru, Mysuru, Hubbali, Kalaburagi and Shivamogga will start opening by Thursday to treat people who contracted the disease.
Sudhakar said that the new task force will also try to determine the source of the infection. Both Covid and Black fungus patients are treated free of cost, he added.
CN Ashwath Narayan, the deputy chief minister of Karnataka and chairperson of the state’s Covid task force on Monday called on ‘Global Innovation Alliance Partner Countries’, to partner with the state in exploring possibilities of procurement of drugs, specifically like Amphotericin B that is critical for treating Black Fungus infection, Remdesivir and Tocilizumab.
He also asked these countries to partner with Karnataka in new technologies like nano medicine, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, 3D Printing, Cloud Computing etc, with the approach of establishing a better health monitoring system.