India Battles Deadly Black Fungus Threat in COVID-19 Patients

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  • India Battles Deadly Black Fungus Threat in COVID-19 Patients.
  • Deadly disease affects coronavirus patients.
  • They fear that the increase in the disease will complicate the fight against COVID-19.

India fights deadly Black Fungus threat in COVID-19 patients. Doctors in India are fighting a fungal infection that affects COVID-19 patients or people who have recovered from the disease, amid a coronavirus outbreak.

The outbreak affecting India is reaching 300,000 deaths in the country, according to The Associated Press. The dangerous infection, known as mucormycosis, is relatively rare, but doctors fear its sudden increase.

Black Fungus Threat in India

Indian Black Fungus, Mucormycosis

Doctors also fear that mucormycosis or “Black Fungus” could further complicate India’s fight against the pandemic. India has reported more than 26 million confirmed cases of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.

With almost half of the infections in the last two months. The Indian Ministry of Health reported 3,741 new deaths on Sunday, bringing confirmed deaths to 299,266 people, according to The Associated Press.

Mucormycosis better known as “Black Fungus”

Indian Black Fungus, Mucormycosis
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It also reported 240,842 new patients, to close a week with less than 300,000 daily cases. The numbers are almost certainly below the true scope of the virus, as the limited ability to perform diagnostic tests is likely to leave many cases unidentified, says AP.

Experts believe that new infections in India, which had risen dramatically, may finally be slowing down. But there is some indication that mucormycosis, also known as “Black Fungus,” is fast becoming a cause for concern.

Why does this disease occur?

Indian Black Fungus, Mucormycosis
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Mucormycosis is caused by exposure to mucous mold, which is commonly found in soil, air, and even on the human nose and mucosa. It spreads through the respiratory system and erodes facial structures, AP notes.

Sometimes doctors have to surgically remove the eye to prevent the infection from reaching the brain. Nearly 9,000 cases have been reported in India so far, Federal Minister Sadananda Gowda said, leading to a shortage of amphotericin B, the antibiotic used to treat the disease.

Concern about the increase of Black Fungus in India

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Gowda did not give a death toll, although local media have reported more than 250 deaths from the infection. Health authorities were working to alleviate the drug shortage, at a time when the country is already short of oxygen and other medical resources, Gowda said.

Mucormycosis has a high mortality rate and existed in India before the pandemic. It is not contagious, but its frequency in the last month has surprised doctors. “It’s a new challenge and things are looking bad,” said Ambrish Mithal, chairman and director of the department of diabetes and endocrinology at Max Healtchare, a chain of private hospitals in India.

“The current rate of infection is scary”

Indian Black Fungus, Mucormycosis
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The fungal infection strikes patients with weakened immune systems and previous health problems, especially diabetes, or who have received poorly reasoned steroid treatment, Mithal said. Having uncontrolled blood sugar can increase the risk that immunosuppressed people will contract the disease.

“I used to find a couple of cases a year, but the current infection rate is scary,” Mithal said, according to the AP. The wave of coronavirus infections in rural India has already taken a toll. Now health experts fear that over-the-counter medications, such as steroids, could increase the prevalence of muchromycosis.

They ask to monitor the increase of Black Fungus in India

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In many rural areas, low-skilled doctors gave patients steroids without thinking about whether they needed them, said SK Pandey, a medical officer at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in the state of Uttar Pradesh, in the city of Lucknow.

“This has led to an increase in Black Fungus cases in smaller cities where patients have not even been hospitalized,” he said. The Indian Ministry of Health asked states to monitor the spread of the fungal infection.

They ask to declare the Black Fungus as an epidemic in India

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In addition to declaring it an epidemic, which forces all medical centers to report cases to a federal monitoring network, points out AP. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday described the disease as a “new challenge.”

The World Health Organization announced a new nomenclature for COVID-19 variants that were previously known by their alphanumeric technical codes or by the countries where they were first detected, AP reported.

“Variants of concern”

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The WHO said it will now refer to so-called “concern variants” with the letters of the Greek alphabet. So the first variant of concern, which was first detected in Great Britain and is also known as B.1.1.7, will be called the “alpha” variant.

The second, which was found in South Africa and has become known as B.1.351, will now be called the “beta” variant, AP notes. A third that was detected in Brazil will be called the “gamma” variant and a fourth that was found in India will be the “delta” variant.

Names assigned to variants of COVID-19

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Future variants that achieve “of concern” status will be labeled with the letters that follow them in the Greek alphabet. The WHO indicated that a group of experts proposed the new system, which will not replace scientific systems for naming, but will offer “simple labels, easy to say and remember” for the variants.

As India’s coronavirus crisis deepens, Sagar Kumar constantly thinks about how to get vaccinations for himself and his family of five while doses are running low in the country. But even if you knew where to get them, the process would not be easy at all, says AP.

India ‘desperately’ looking for vaccines

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The most common way is through a government website. But it is in English, a language that neither Kumar, a 25-year-old night watchman, nor 90% of Indians know. His family has only one smartphone that rarely has an internet connection.

And although the state of Uttar Pradesh where he lives offers free vaccinations to everyone under 45, there are no vaccination centers in his village. The nearest hospital is more than an hour away. “The only thing I can do now is hope things get better,” Kumar said.

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