Is Black Fungus Still Prevalent In India?

By: Milton, Diamond

Published On: September 06, 2021

The deadly second wave of COVID-19 devastated everything that came in its way, including but not limited to villages, towns, cities and entire institutions in India and around the world. Hospitals around the country were overburdened, crematoriums ran out of space to bury the dead and many found themselves running from pillar to post for oxygen cylinders, medicines and other basic necessities. India was left unprepared as nobody could have predicted the severity and the atrocious on-ground realities of the second wave.

The second wave also introduced a spurt of black fungus cases in COVID-19 patients. As reported by The Economic Times, some doctors think it was possibly due to medicines administered to Covid patients at home without bringing their blood sugar levels under control. While some also believe it was a combination of unclean, unhygienic post-Covid living conditions of patients and also the overuse of cheap steroids.

As the second wave seemingly recedes, let us look back at the damage that black fungus left in its wake and whether it’s still prevalent in the country:

Black fungus during the 2nd wave

Black fungus (Mucormycosis) are non-contagious infections that happen when we come in contact with the fungal spores in the environment. Black fungus is a rare infection but it can prove to be fatal if not treated on time.

As per a report by Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, there were a total of 45,453 cases of black fungus reported in India till July 15. India was responsible for approximately 71% of the global cases of black fungus in patients with COVID-19. 

Source: Pixabay

Are there active or new cases of black fungus in India?

Since July 15, 2021 in Bengaluru, at least 285 new black fungus cases have been reported which has taken the tally to 3,836 as of August 18. Even Andhra Pradesh saw a surge in black fungus cases when 151 cases of mucormycosis were reported in the state along with 14 deaths in the first week of August 2021.

On the other hand, Tamil Nadu started seeing a fall in the number of black fungus cases during July-August. Doctors at private and government hospitals in Chennai said that the number of cases has fallen by about 80 to 90 per cent. 

Tamil Nadu stands fourth among the states with the highest Mucormycosis case tally, as of July 28, 2021, Maharashtra stood first with 9,654 cases followed by Gujarat with 6,846 cases, Andhra Pradesh with 4,209 cases, and Tamil Nadu with 4,075 cases. 

As reported to The Hindu, doctors say a fall in cases of mucormycosis is no reason for complacency. Early diagnosis of mucormycosis symptoms and treatment will ensure complete cure, while delays can cause serious complications. The reason for the fall in black fungus cases can be attributed to the decline in COVID-19 spread. On the positive side, now there is no shortage of drugs and injections like Amphotericin B for black fungus treatment

Source: Pixabay

How can black fungus be prevented?

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, causes of black fungus include uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, immunosuppression by steroids, prolonged ICU stay and comorbidities post transplant. 

A few medical experts talked to DNA and suggested simple tips which could potentially help prevent black fungus: 

  • Many experts believe that Irrational use of steroids is one of the primary causes of black fungus.

  • Director of AIIMS, Dr. Randeep Guleria has also said that, "High dosage of steroids being taken by COVID-19 patients is of no use. Mild to moderate doses are more than enough. As per the data, steroids should be given only for 5 to 10 days (maximum). Moreover, steroids increase the blood sugar level which can then become hard to control."

  • Patients who are taking steroids should also keep monitoring their blood sugar levels.

  • Masks should not be worn over a long period of time. They should be disinfected/washed daily. 

  • Avoid staying in poorly ventilated rooms such as a basement, or less airy rooms.

  • Cleaning and replacement of humidifiers should be done always. Sterile normal saline should be used in the humidifier bottle and changed regularly. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people lost their jobs or had to take massive pay cuts. They struggled to afford medical bills during medical emergencies. Many of them resorted to crowdfunding platforms like ImpactGuru to get support from donors around the world who wanted to help them get the best and timely treatment. 

Here is one such story:

Black Fungus Torments A Young Father

36-year-old Shrikanta is the only working member of his family which includes his homemaker wife, little daughter and his old parents. Amidst the pandemic, Shrikanta was determined to provide for his family and vowed to not stop working. But fate had other plans, Shrikanta was diagnosed with COVID-19 and had to be admitted to Apollo Hospital in Bengaluru. To make matters worse, he also contracted black fungus, (Mucormycosis). His right eye grew puffy and with time he lost his vision and could see only with one eye. Doctors had to perform a major surgery to reduce the swelling. After 4 drastic surgeries, his face is paralyzed and he also risks losing his vision forever. 

A latest update on Shrikanta’s health states that he is still hospitalized. He is on a liquid diet and is being fed through a tube. The doctor has suggested that Shrikanta gets one of the plastic surgeries done in the coming week. Post this surgery he also might require a few more surgeries and continued medical care.

The next set of surgeries and extended hospital stay hold the power to end Shrikanta’s misery. Around Rs 27.02 lakh would be needed to continue the treatment. You can help Shrikanta recover as soon as possible and reunite him with his little daughter by sharing this story and donating to his fundraiser here.

Here are the Early signs and symptoms you should watch out for in black fungus