Experts attribute steroid abuse for rise in black fungus infection

District Covid Special Officer PV Sudhakar
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District Covid Special Officer PV Sudhakar

Highlights

  • District Covid Special Officer and Principal of Andhra Medical College P V Sudhakar says a multi-pronged approach is required to tackle mucormycosis
  • Health officials say that the black fungus will gain an upper hand when the immunity level dips in the body

Visakhapatnam: As if the prevailing pandemic situation is not enough to handle, another scare that troubles people now is the spread of black fungus. With the mucormycosis, also known as black fungus, already claiming two lives in Kurnool, health officials caution that it is likely to attack those whose immune system is weak. In parts of the country, the infection has been reported among those who have either recovered from Covid-19 or in the process of recouping. In Visakhapatnam, a suspected black fungus case was reported on Sunday. However, when checked with the officials concerned, they mentioned that it will be confirmed only after thorough examination.

Terming it as an 'opportunistic' infection, District Covid Special Officer and Principal of Andhra Medical College PV Sudhakar says, "A multi-pronged approach is required to tackle mucormycosis. It is present in the air, water and soil and so in our nostrils as well. Normally, they are innocuous unless they are provoked by the low immune system of the individuals."

Health officials say that the black fungus will gain an upper hand when the immunity level dips and the severity varies from person to person. Liberal use of steroids and antibiotics, anti-cancer treatments, prolonged ICU stay and comorbidities will affect the immune system at large. "While treating Covid-19, usage of steroids becomes inevitable in some cases. Caution should be exercised while administering steroids to the patients as their immunity level will be impacted if there is an indiscriminate use of steroids," cautions Dr Sudhakar. In addition, the emphasis is also on maintaining the humidifiers of the medical oxygen cylinders and keeping them clean. "Water in these humidifiers should be changed on a daily basis. Either distilled, boiled and cooled or RO water should be used to fill the humidifiers and they should be sterilised at periodic intervals," elaborates Dr Sudhakar.

Training in maintaining the humidifiers and making people aware of the quantum of steroids to be taken are some of the precautionary measures the health officials are stressing on to place a check on the black fungus. Though the mucormycosis is considered less harmful, it attacks those with weak immune system if left undetected. But, the infection, if neglected, can prove to be fatal as it invades the lungs and brain, caution health experts.

One-sided facial pain, numbness or swelling, blackish discoloration over bridge of nose, toothache, blurred or double vision with pain and chest pain are some of the symptoms of mucormycosis spotted among Covid-19 patients or immunosuppressed individuals.

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