'Black fungus' cases complicate India's COVID-19 crisis
Even as India faces a brutal COVID-19 crisis, the country has witnessed a rise in the number of cases of mucormycosis or "black fungus." Experts fear the irrational use of steroids to treat COVID-19 could be leading to a surge in mucormycosis cases. India is currently facing a second wave of COVID-19—the worst in the world—reporting 2.4 lakh fresh infections on Sunday.
According to the Union Health Ministry, till Friday morning, India reported a total of 2,65,30,132 COVID-19 cases. The death toll has reached 2,99,266. So far, 2,34,25,467 patients have recovered, while 28,05,399 cases involve active infections. In the past 24 hours alone, India recorded 2,40,842 new infections, 3,55,102 more discharges, and 3,741 fresh fatalities. 19,50,04,184 vaccine doses have been administered so far.
Maharashtra reported 26,133 new COVID-19 cases along with 40,294 more recoveries. Karnataka, the second worst-hit state after Maharashtra, reported 31,183 new cases and 61,766 discharges. Meanwhile, the third worst-hit Kerala added 28,514 new cases and 45,400 recoveries. Uttar Pradesh reported 6,046 new cases and 17,540 recoveries. Tamil Nadu, the fifth worst-hit state, reported 35,873 new cases and 25,776 recoveries.
While the COVID-19 crisis continues to strain India's healthcare system, another life-threatening situation has started to plague patients. Mucormycosis, or "black fungus," is relatively rare, however, it can lead to the erosion of facial structures. Mucormycosis is caused by mucor mold, which is found in soil, air, and in the nose and mucus of humans. It spreads through the respiratory tract.
Union Minister Sadananda Gowda said Saturday that nearly 9,000 cases of "black fungus" have been reported across India. Reportedly, over 250 people have also died due to the disease. Mucormycosis has led to a shortage of Amphotericin B, the drug used for its treatment. The disease mainly afflicts people with weakened immune systems or those with underlying conditions, such as diabetes.
The irrational usage of steroids can also put one at risk of mucormycosis. Notably, steroids have been used excessively as an over-the-counter medication for the treatment of COVID-19 cases. On Thursday, India had asked states to declare mucormycosis an epidemic.