People wait in queues for their thermal scanning before entering a market in Ahmedabad in this file photo.(PTI)
People wait in queues for their thermal scanning before entering a market in Ahmedabad in this file photo.(PTI)

Covid-19 triggering rare, fatal fungal infection: Here’s all about mucormycosis

Last week, doctors at Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital also found multiple cases in recovering coronavirus patients, who were diagnosed with the deadly fungal infection. They said nearly half of them lost their eyesight.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Meenakshi Ray
UPDATED ON DEC 22, 2020 02:43 PM IST

Gujarat has issued an advisory after some patients of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the state were found infected with mucormycosis, a serious but rare fungal infection, which has an overall “mortality rate of 50%”. In its advisory to doctors and health officials, the state’s health department has said that mucormycosis infects people with a weak immune system and those with other existing illnesses. The department said the advisory is being issued after some Covid-19 patients in Ahmedabad and Rajkot were found infected with mucormycosis.

Last week, doctors at Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital also found multiple cases in recovering coronavirus disease patients, who were diagnosed with the deadly fungal infection. They said nearly half of them lost their eyesight.

Also read | Scientists urge concern, not alarm over new virus strains

This alarming affliction, although rare, is not new. Black Fungus or mucormycosis has been a cause of disease and death of patients in transplants, and ICU and immunodeficient individuals in the past. However, it is the rapid increase in the numbers seen in unsuspected recovering Covid-19 patients that is causing the grave concern, the hospital said in a statement.

Here is all about mucormycosis:

1. It is a “serious but rare infection caused by a group of molds called mucormycetes”.

2. Mucormycosis most commonly affects the sinuses or lungs after inhaling fungal spores from the air, or the skin after the fungus enters through a cut, burn or other types of skin injury. According to the advisory, it can occur in any part of the body.

3. It said though the “overall mortality rate is around 50 per cent”, early identification and treatment can lead to a better outcome.

Also read | What we know about the new Covid-19 strain so far

4. According to the advisory, people with diabetes or cancer, those who underwent organ transplant, stem cell transplant or people with too much iron in their body are at a greater risk of contracting this infection.

5. Mucormycosis “cannot spread between people or between people and animals”. “People get mucormycosis through contact with fungal spores in the environment,” it said.

6. The advisory recommended some preventive measures, like wearing N95 masks but said they “have not been proven to prevent mucormycosis”.

7. People should also avoid direct contact with a lot of dust, wear shoes, long pants and gloves while handling soil or moss, and clean skin injuries well with soap and water.

(With PTI inputs)

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