- All cases of black fungus have to be reported to the health ministry
- The disease is strongly linked to diabetes
- Maharashtra has reported 1,500 cases and 90 deaths from the infection
The government has asked all states to declare mucormycosis or “black fungus” an epidemic. A letter from the Health Ministry asks states to list under the “Epidemic Diseases Act” the rare but potentially fatal infection.
This means all confirmed or suspected cases of black fungus, a condition seen in recovering Covid patients, have to be reported to the health ministry.
“In recent times a new challenge in the form of a fungal infection namely mucormycosis has emerged and is reported from many states among COVID-19 patients especially those on steroid therapy and deranged sugar control,” Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal has said in a letter to states.
“This fungal infection is leading to prolonged morbidity and mortality among COVID-19 patients,” he says, adding that its treatment needs a multi-disciplinary approach that includes eye surgeons, ENT specialists, general surgeons, neurosurgeons, dental facial surgeons and a special anti-fungal medicine, Amphotericin.
“All government and private health facilities and medical colleges have to follow guidelines for screening, diagnosis, management of mucormycosis,” Mr Agarwal tells states.
The disease, which can lead to blackening or discolouration over the nose, blurred or double vision, chest pain, breathing difficulties and coughing blood, is linked to diabetes.
Diabetics and those with compromised immune systems are urged by doctors to watch for symptoms like sinus or nasal blockage on one side of the face, headache, swelling or numbness, toothache and loosening of teeth.
Maharashtra has reported 1,500 cases and 90 deaths from the infection.
Rajasthan and Telangana have already declared black fungus an epidemic.
Tamil Nadu, with only nine reported cases so far, has also notified the disease under its Public Health Act.
Doctors say mucormycosis can affect the face, the nose, the orbit of the eye, or brain, which can cause even vision loss. It can also spread to the lungs.
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