Black fungus in India: Which states have been affected?
Black fungus or mucormycosis - a rare but potentially fatal fungal infection - is rapidly taking hold in several states during India's devastating second wave of the coronavirus. It is more commonly being seen in recovering or recovered COVID-19 patients who have certain comorbidities, especially diabetes. The affected states include national capital Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, among others. Here are more updates.
At least 29 cases seen in Delhi recently
At least 10 patients suspected to have contracted mucormycosis were recently admitted to Delhi's AIIMS, up from two cases per month earlier, doctors say. Another 19 people suffering from the infection were undergoing treatment at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Dr. Ajay Swaroop had recently said. The Delhi government is taking all necessary steps to control the disease, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has said.
Maharashtra Minister said there could be 2,000 cases there
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope had last week said there could be more than 2,000 mucormycosis infections in the state, warning, "Their number would increase for sure." Further, 52 patients have died of the infection in the state since the COVID-19 outbreak, a senior health department official had said on Friday. Meanwhile, the government has set up separate wards for treatment of mucormycosis patients.
Gujarat reports over 100 infections
Gujarat is among the worst-hit states by the disease, having reported more than 100 cases of mucormycosis so far. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has also announced setting up of separate wards for patients of the infection. The state government said it had placed an order for 5,000 injections of the antifungal drug Amphotericin-B at a cost of Rs. 3.12 crore for mucormycosis treatment.
40 cases in Haryana, infection declared a 'notified disease'
Haryana has seen more than 40 cases of Black fungus in the past few days, the state's Opposition leader Kumari Selja had recently said, according to PTI. In a significant development, the northern state has declared the infection a notified disease. This implies that each case of mucormycosis will now be reported to the government authorities, allowing better tracking and management of the infection.
5 suspected cases in Odisha, state-level panel formed
Odisha has at least five suspected mucormycosis infections so far, according to a report by The Times of India. Last Friday, the state government had constituted a seven-member committee of senior doctors to monitor the rise in such cases. Niranjan Mishra, the Director of Public Health in Odisha, is the convenor of the state-level panel.
Cases also seen in Karnataka, Kerala, Punjab, UP
Meanwhile, Black fungus has been detected in at least four people who had recovered from COVID-19, in Karnataka. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday said a few cases were reported in his state as well. A few cases of the infection have also been reported from several districts of Punjab, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh, according to reports.
What is the Black fungus infection?
Mucormycosis is caused by a group of moulds known as mucormycetes. Though these fungi are naturally present in the environment, they typically affect people who are on medication for certain health problems, which essentially weakens their immune system. Misuse of steroids among coronavirus patients, especially those who are diabetic, is a major cause behind the infection, AIIMS Director Dr. Randeep Guleria has said.