Delta variant putting patients at greater risk of black fungus: Doctors

Delta variant putting patients at greater risk of black fungus: Doctors
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Delta variant putting patients at greater risk of black fungus: Doctors

Highlights

Black fungus is very much treatable if patients take medical help on time, with typical recovery time being three weeks in early stages of the disease. They need to undergo complete and repeated surgical removal of the infected tissue from the affected areas and take anti-fungal medication- Dr Pramod V Satya, Consultant, Internal Medicine, Vikram Hospital

Bengaluru: City doctors warn that the Sars-Cov-2 delta variant not only has a 40% higher transmission rate than the alpha variant (which in turn has a 50% higher transmissibility than the original strain of the virus), it also causes a much more severe complications. This is leading to a further rise in the percentage of positive cases that require hospitalization, even though the infection is in younger people.

Dr Srinivas K, Consultant ENT, Head & Neck Surgeon, at Vikram Hospital said, "Mucormycosis, or black fungus, is a rare and rapidly progressive disease with high mortality, if not treated in time. It usually occurs in people who either have health conditions like untreated diabetes or are taking medicines that lower the body's immunity. The infection is caused by a fungus called Mucormycetes which lives in our surrounding environment. Its transmission occurs by inhalation, inoculation or ingestion of the spores. There are probable theories about its spread such as fungus growing on the walls, negative pressure rooms, water leaks, poor air filtration, building construction activities, etc."

Dr. Pramod V Satya, Consultant – Internal Medicine, Vikram Hospital, said, "Black fungus is very much treatable if patients take medical help on time, with typical recovery time being three weeks in early stages of the disease. They need to undergo complete and repeated surgical removal of the infected tissue from the affected areas and take anti-fungal medication in the form of Amphotericin-B. Since this disease is rapidly progressive and potentially fatal, our advice to patients is to consult an ENT specialist in initial stages of their course of symptoms. This is because early diagnosis and prompt treatment leads to a better cure rate and faster recovery."

The major areas of the body affected by black fungus include the small hollow spaces in the bones around the nose (paranasal sinuses), the nasal cavity, the palate, the skull base and the back wall of the throat from where it can spread to the eyes and brain. Other probable areas for infection are skin, lungs and the gastro-intestinal tract. Symptoms include facial pain, puffiness or swelling, eye pain, puffiness around the eyes, blurring of vision or double vision associated with a blocked nose, headache, tooth pain or swelling over the palate.

Srinivas added, "We have been treating cases of mucormycosis affecting the sinuses, brain, palate or the eyes. Most patients who come early to us for treatment have nasal symptoms and associated headache. They do well with timely surgical and medical management. Some patients come late when the disease has spread to their eyes, brain or the palate. We have been seeing cases of both single fungus as well as multi-fungus disease. The other fungi apart from black fungus that we are seeing in patients include Candida albicans, Aspergillus Niger and Aspergillus fumigates."

The doctors recommended that patients of black fungus go for endoscopic surgery wherever possible.

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