Black fungus patients from across State struggle to find beds in Bengaluru

The dearth of treatment facilities and supply of medicines in many cases is forcing mucormycosis (black fungus) patients in other districts to seek medical help in Bengaluru. However, when they arrive at the State’s capital, most are unable to find a bed as they were unaware of the official procedure where District Health Officers (DHOs) have to be alerted so that beds can be organised for them. Others travel to the city only to realise that they have been falsely diagnosed with black fungus.

Anjaneya, a lineman from Raichur, developed pain in one of his nostrils days after he recovered from COVID-19. The local hospital diagnosed it as a case of mucormycosis, but said they had no medicine – Liposomal Amphotericin B – to treat the deadly fungal infection.

Instead, they gave him an antibiotic and sent him home, asking him to try his luck after a week. But he panicked and reached the city, seeking immediate treatment. “It’s only after we came to Bengaluru that we realised the procedure. Our DHO had to write to the DHO in Bengaluru who had to recommend us to get a bed in either Bowring or Victoria Hospitals. After a lot of running from pillar to post, we went to Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital, where it was diagnosed that it was not a case of black fungus,” said Rangareddy, a close friend of Anjaneya. “We spent four very tense days, unnecessarily,” he said.

Umesh Nareppa, senior cardiac surgeon and part of BMC-92, a group of doctors across the world volunteering by offering teleconsultations, recently saw a patient from Hassan who had developed pain in the upper jaw days after recovering from COVID-19. He soon developed numbness in the chin.

“I suspected it to be a case of mucormycosis and asked him to go to an ENT doctor. The local doctor ruled out black fungus. But within days he developed other symptoms which pointed to the fungal infection. We tried getting a bed for the patient in Bengaluru. Eventually, the district hospital responded and he was operated upon. Many districts do not have such good doctors and facilities,” he said, adding that the lack of proper diagnosis and treatment was a serious concern in several districts.

“Ideally, all patients need to be treated in their respective districts only. But when there are gaps in facilities, expertise and medicines, people must be allowed to use infrastructure in the State’s capital,” he said.

Also, the procedure in place, wherein the DHO writes to his counterpart in Bengaluru, is proving to be a hurdle. DHOs are hesitant to write the referral letters as they will be held accountable for not being able to treat patients in their districts, sources said. “In several districts, there seem to be clear instructions not to issue such referrals. If they are able to correctly diagnose and treat such patients, it’s fine. But when there are gaps, the patients are denied better care available in the State,” said H.V. Vasu, co-ordinator, Karnataka COVID-19 Volunteers Team.

More vials of Amphotericin B for State

Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers D.V. Sadananda Gowda tweeted on Wednesday that the Centre had earmarked an additional 15,520 vials of Amphotericin B for Karnataka. This was part of 1,70,000 vials of the drug allotted to all States, Union Territories and central institutions on Wednesday.

“So far, 40,470 vials of the drug have been allocated to the State, including Wednesday’s allocation for timely treatment of patients,” Mr. Gowda tweeted. Senior officials in the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Karnataka, welcomed the allocation. Though the number of mucormycosis cases reported in the state had come down, the State is facing a shortage of the crucial drug.

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 8:50:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/black-fungus-patients-from-across-state-struggle-to-find-beds-in-bengaluru/article34773615.ece

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