Centre asks states to declare 'black fungus' an epidemic
The Centre has asked state governments to declare mucormycosis or "black fungus" an epidemic. The rare but potentially fatal fungal infection has been seen afflicting recovering COVID-19 patients. All such cases will now have to be reported to the Union Health Ministry as the Centre has asked states to list the disease under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. Here are more details.
'All government, private health facilities to follow central guidelines'
Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal has said in a letter to states, "You are requested to make mucormycosis a notifiable disease under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, wherein all government and private health facilities, medical colleges will follow guidelines for screening, diagnosis, management of mucormycosis, issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Gol) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)."
'Report all suspected and confirmed cases'
"And, make it mandatory for all these facilities to report all suspected and confirmed cases to health department through district-level chief medical officer and subsequently to Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) surveillance system," the letter further added.
Infections leading to prolonged morbidity, mortality among COVID-19 patients
In the letter, Agarwal also noted that the fungal infection is mainly seen among those on steroid therapy and deranged sugar control. It is leading to prolonged morbidity and mortality among COVID-19 patients, he noted. To treat such cases, a multi-disciplinary approach that includes eye surgeons, ENT specialists, general surgeons, neurosurgeons, dental facial surgeons is required along with the drug Amphotericin, he added.
What is mucormycosis?
Mucormycosis is caused by naturally occurring molds called mucormycetes, which can affect those with weakened immune systems. It can affect the face, the nose, the orbit of the eye, or the brain. It may even spread to the lungs. The symptoms of the disease include blackening or discoloration of the nose, nasal blockage, headache, blurred vision, chest pain, swelling around the eyes, etc.
90 deaths reported in Maharashtra
Maharashtra has reported at least 1,500 cases of mucormycosis, out of which, 850 are in the hospital. At least 90 deaths have also been reported in the state. In Rajasthan, around 100 cases have been reported. Cases have also been detected in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, etc. Rajasthan and Telangana had already declared it an epidemic.