Karnataka asks experts to study cases of mucormycosis and submit report

With an increasing number of ‘black fungus’ or mucormycosis cases being reported in the State, the Health Department has now asked experts to study the incidences and submit a detailed report.

Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar said on Wednesday that the State will chalk out modalities on including this complication in the State’s free treatment protocols based on the experts’ report. “I discussed this with members of our Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) on Tuesday and asked them to submit a detailed report within the next two-three days,” he said.

Affects lungs, brain

A rare but serious fungal infection, mucormycosis or ‘black fungus’ is being frequently reported as a post-COVID-19 complication among patients in some States. The disease often manifests in the skin and also affects the lungs and the brain. Most patients cannot afford the cost of treatment which runs into lakhs of rupees. While treatment has been made free of cost in Maharashtra, Karnataka is yet to consider it.

City-based doctors said they are seeing several cases of ‘black fungus’. At the State-run Bangalore Medical College and Research Centre, eight cases were reported last September of which six died.

Seven cases in a week

“We have seen seven cases in the last one week alone. This is a post-COVID-19 infection seen in immunocompromised patients. As the ENT department in BMCRI is closed with the entire Victoria Hospital being converted into a COVID-19 facility, we do not have a separate ward or facility where we can treat these patients. I have asked the Head of the Department of ENT to provide us staff and space for treating black fungus cases,” said B.L. Sujatha Rathod, director of Minto Ophthalmic Hospital.

“Treating this post-COVID-19 complication requires a multi-disciplinary approach and we are in the process of involving specialists from other departments,” she pointed out.

Use of steroids

C.N. Manjunath, member of the State’s expert committee, said the complication is associated with indiscriminate use of steroids. “Doctors should prescribe steroids judiciously and not for those with mild symptoms. Fungal infections are common in those with diabetes, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), Cancer and HIV, where immunity is compromised,” the doctor said.

ENT specialist Deepak Haldipur, who heads the Department of Special Treatment of Mucormycosis at Trust Well Hospital, said he had seen over 65 cases in the last two weeks. “Over 15 patients, who came in an advanced stage, have also undergone surgeries here,” he said.

Pointing out that the complication is mainly seen in COVID-19 patients with diabetes, Dr. Haldipur said the immunocompromised condition in such patients is conducive for the fungal growth. “Treatment is expensive and usually runs into lakhs. I have learnt that treatment has been made free in Maharashtra and there is a need for a similar approach in our State too,” he said.

He added that the infection can also occur in some oxygen-dependent patients if hygiene and proper protocols are not followed while using the nasal mask and oxygen concentrators.


* One-sided facial swelling

* Headache

* Nasal or sinus congestion

* Black lesions on nasal bridge or upper inside of mouth that quickly become more severe

* Fever

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 1:29:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/karnataka-asks-experts-to-study-cases-of-mucormycosis-and-submit-report/article34553041.ece

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