Every day we come across stories of people dying due to COVID 19, which aches our hearts. One such story was of a patient, who sang to her dying mother “Tera Mujhse hai Pehle ka nata koi”. This really made me cry and at the same time, appreciate the people around me.
The situation of COVID 19 is not getting better any time soon. Every day we have mobile notifications and newspapers filled with the news of people dying or begging for oxygen, beds and more.
Imagine the surprise those COVID 19 patients felt when they learned they had a Black Fungus Infection called Mucormycosis while fighting the virus.
India has recorded 23 million COVID-19 infections and over 250,000 deaths, accounting for one out of every five active infections worldwide.
What is Black Fungus Infection:
Mucormycosis, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), is a fungal infection that mostly affects people who are taking medications for other health issues that impair their ability to combat environmental pathogens.
After inhaling fungal spores from the air, these people’s sinuses and lungs become infected. The mortality rate of this infection is about 50 per cent.
Mucormycosis is a relatively uncommon infection. It is caused by Mucor mould, which is commonly found in dirt, seeds, manure, and rotting fruits and vegetables.
Exact numbers are not available but the Black Fungus Infection have risen in Maharashtra, Ahmedabad and New Delhi at a pace. There are now 100 cases in public hospitals in Ahmedabad while as per the Health Minister of Maharashtra, the state may have over 2,000 cases of mucormycosis.
The Infection attacks blood vessels and live tissues, making them all black. It soon spreads to the eyes or the jawbone, leaving the doctors with the only option to surgically remove these parts. If the infection reaches the brain, the mortality rate is over 50 per cent.
The worst thing is that COVID-19 patients using oxygen concentrators are also at risk. If hospital hygiene isn’t up to par, fungal spores will breed on damp [and dirty] surfaces [such as hospital devices and equipment], exposing patients to a time when their immunity is most vulnerable.
Symptoms of Black Fungus Infection:
- Pain and redness around eyes and/or nose.
- Shortness of breath
- Blood in vomit
- Altered mental status
Factors that can cause infection with Black Fungus include:
- Prolonged hospital stay
- Uncontrolled diabetes mellitus
- Voriconazole therapy
- Immunosuppression by steroids
- Co-morbidities – post-transplant/ malignancy
Signs to get yourself Checked for Black Fungus Infection:
- Sinusitis: When a patient complains of a blocked nose or cough, as well as a black or bloody nasal discharge, it is diagnosed as sinusitis. Some patients may experience localised pain on the cheekbone.
- Chest pain, pleural effusion, haemoptysis, worsening respiratory distress
- Skin lesion
- Pain in one side of the face culminating in numbness or swelling
- Blackish discolouration over the bridge of thenose/palate
- Thrombosis and necrosis
- Toothache along with loosening of teeth, jaw involvement
- Blurred or double vision with pain
The total medical expenses, including surgeries, range from 40,00,000 to 50,00,000 Indian rupees.