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Centre steps up drive to help states combat deadly black fungus

Centre steps up drive to help states combat deadly black fungus

The Centre has mounted an offensive against rising cases of mucormycosis black fungus in Covid-19 patients by asking the states to declare it as an epidemic which makes it mandatory for all cases of the disease to be reported to the government for monitoring. The treatment of black fungus is also to be carried out in accordance with the protocol laid down by the country’s top ENT (eye nose and throat) doctors.

The Central government has already rushed more supplies of the anti-fungal drug Amphotericin B to treat the disease which is breaking out mainly in diabetics being administered steroids for the treatment of Covid-19.

The Central government is ramping up supplies of Amphotericin B to meet the sudden increase in demand for the medicine. It has asked domestic manufacturers to step up production of the drug. The supply position is expected to improve with extra imports of this drug and increase in its production domestically,” a health ministry official said.

More medicines will be rushed to the affected states depending on their requirement as accurate numbers on black fungus patients will now be available on a real-time basis as the disease has been declared an epidemic, the official added.

Typical symptoms of the disease are blackening or discolouration over the nose, blurred or double vision, chest pain, breathing difficulties and coughing blood.

Doctors believe that the use of steroids to treat severe COVID-19 could be causing the spurt in cases because those drugs reduce immunity and push up sugar levels.

Over 7,000 people have been infected by black fungus across the country while over 200 are reported to have died due to .the disease.

The worst-hit states due to black fungus are :

*Maharashtra:  As many as 1,500 cases of mucormycosis and 90 deaths.

*Gujarat: 1,163 cases of mucormycosis have been detected and 61 deaths.

*Madhya Pradesh: 575 cases of and 31 deaths.

*Haryana: 268 cases, eight deaths due to mucormycosis have been reported in Haryana.

*Delhi: 203 cases and one death..

*Uttar Pradesh: 169 cases and eight deaths.

*Bihar: 103 cases, 2 deaths due to mucormycosis have been registered in Bihar.

*Chhattisgarh: Mucormycosis has been detected in 101 people and one person has died in the state because of it.

*Karnataka:  97 cases

*Telangana:  90 cases and 10 deaths.

What Doctors Say

Dr Manish Munjal, senior ENT surgeon at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi, said: "We are seeing a rise again in this dangerous fungal infection triggered by COVID-19. Last year, this deadly infection caused a high mortality with many patients suffering from the loss of eyesight and the removal of the nose and the jaw bone."

Dr Ajay Swaroop, the chairman of the ENT department at the hospital, said the use of steroids in the treatment of COVID-19 coupled with the fact that many coronavirus patients have diabetes could be one of the reasons for this rise in the number of black fungus cases again.

He said the infection is commonly seen in patients who have recovered from COVID-19 but have comorbidities such as diabetes, kidney or heart failure or cancer.

Black fungus or mucormycosis has been a cause of disease and death of patients in transplants, ICUs and immunodeficient patients since long but it is now infecting Covid-19 patients.