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Black Fungus Epidemic in India.

A doctor examines a patient that just recovered from coronavirus now infected with the black fungus infection. Image Credit: AFP.

Several Indian states have declared a new epidemic that has been spreading rapidly among people that had severe COVID-19. The disease is known as black fungus, and what was once a rare infection, is now affecting thousands.

The fungal disease also known as mucormycosis has a mortality rate of 50%. The fungus initially affects individuals in the nose, but can eventually spread to the brain. It can only be treated by major surgery requiring sometimes the removal of part of the skull or jaw and even sometimes an eye.

So far, more than 7,200 cases have been reported. The black fungus spores are found in soil and organic matter. Individuals that inhale the fungal spores can get infected, but a normal individual easily fights off the fungus. Immunocompromised individuals are usually unable to fight off the fungal infection, such as those patients with severe COVID-19 that were treated with steroids for a long period. Cases with the fungal infection also shot up among thos COVID-19 patients that were on the ventilators for a long time, possibly due to humidity and moisture.

The fungal spores manifests first in the nose, and if not treated and stopped, it will eventually spread to the brain where it will be fatal. So far there are five Indian states that declared the black fungus disease an epidemic. The states are Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Rajasthan,Telangana and Gujarat. More Indian states are expected to declare it an epidemic.

Dr Amit Thadhani, director of Niramaya hospital in Mumbai, noted that the black fungus affects mostly patients that are diabetic or immunocompromised.

Nearly all patients are diabetic or immunocompromised.

Dr Amit Thadhani.

The rapid rise of new cases of the fungal infection is causing a shortage of anti-fungal drugs prompting the Delhi high court to ask the central government to procure more anti-fungal drugs.

More details to follow.

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