July 28, 2021

In India, a black fungus reaches former patients of Covid-19

As India begins to glimpse the peak of the second wave that has ravaged the country since April, a new scourge has emerged: mucormycosis, called “black fungus”, which affects human tissues and blackens. Nearly 10,000 cases have been identified in convalescents of Covid-19. A dozen states have classified the infection as an “epidemic” and the government of Narendra Modi has asked them to strengthen prevention, hygiene and sanitation in hospitals.

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This rare condition, fatal in 50% of cases, but which is not contagious, affects the sinuses, brain and lungs. It can lead to amputations, when patients arrive too late for treatment and the affected organs must be removed. The first signs are headache, swelling of the face, fever and the appearance of black spots.

Shortage of antibiotics

Several explanations have been put forward to explain the emergence of mucormycosis: experts primarily suspect the misuse of steroids in certain patients seriously affected by Covid-19, in particular diabetics whose immunity may have been greatly reduced. . This is because steroids reduce inflammation in the lungs, but they cause a reduction in immunity and an increase in blood sugar levels, two aggravating factors for diabetics.

New Delhi has 475 cases of black fungus infection, whereas before the second wave only one or two cases were recorded per month

The use of oxygen could also be involved. Faced with a major shortage, the government had to allow the use of industrial oxygen, which may have been packaged in cylinders without proper hygiene. The black fungus was not reported in the first wave, according to the Indian Council for Medical Research, the government body responsible for work on the novel coronavirus.

There is an effective treatment with liposomal amphotericin B, but India regrets a shortage of this antifungal antibiotic. Seized by a patient, the High Court of Delhi found, Monday, May 24, that the gap between the demand and the supply of amphotericin B is too important to be filled. “It appears that current production and forecasted supply and import are not sufficient to meet black fungus processing needs”, concluded the magistrates. New Delhi has 475 cases of black fungus infection, while before the second wave only one or two cases were recorded per month. Three establishments have been designated to receive patients.

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