This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Alok Mishra. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Why Is Black Fungus Common Among Covid Patients And How To Prevent It?

More from Alok Mishra

This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

At a time when India’s healthcare infrastructure has already been stretched to its limit, the clouds of a new trouble loom over the country. Recently, a rare fungal disease, called the ‘black fungus’ or mucormycosis, has been reported in some Covid-hit patients in many parts of the country. The disease is causing blindness in some cases. If left uncared for, mucormycosis may also turn fatal, stated an advisory released by the ICMR and Union Health Ministry.

In pre-pandemic times, there used to 24.7-89 cases of mucormycosis per year at a single tertiary-care hospital. This number has now increased to over 2,000 cases in the past 2-3 months in Maharashtra, one of the worst hit by Covid as well as mucormycosis.

What Is Mucormycosis?

Also known as ‘black fungus’, mucormycosis is a deadly fungal disease caused by mucormycetes, a group of molds belonging to the order Mucorales. Mucormycetes, the fungal group responsible for this infection, are typically found everywhere in the environment, mostly in soil or dead and decaying organic waste such as animal faeces, dead leaves and composts. These are also present in the air in the form of extremely small spores. Hot and humid conditions favour their growth.

Banquet Halls Converted Into Covid Care Centre In Delhi
Looking at the current situation in our hospitals, it is probable that congested wards and poor ventilation are exposing patients with already low immunity to this deadly disease. (Photo by Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Causes

Inhalation of these fungal spores floating in the air is the most common cause of this infection. Another way this deadly fungus can enter our body is by direct inoculation through cuts, burns or surgical wounds. Looking at the current situation in our hospitals, it is probable that congested wards and poor ventilation are exposing patients with already low immunity to this deadly disease.

A video report by Reuters has directly linked the increasing cases of ‘black fungus’ in Gujarat to the use of cow dung and urine in Covid therapy. Although there’s no proof to this link, doctors across the globe believe it’s quite probable. People have been advised by the medical field to not fall for these myths. Such foolish acts not only risk patients, but also add to the worries of the already-overworked doctors.

Who Are At Risk?

Mucormycosis is a rare disease that doesn’t affect healthy people, but recently, it has been detected in many Covid patients, particularly with a diabetic condition. According to some health experts, this disease mostly targets immunocompromised people. This mostly includes those who have recently had an organ/stem cell transplant or are undergoing prolonged treatment, especially therapies involving use of immunosuppressant drugs.

Speaking at a clinical excellence programme, AIIMS Chief Dr Guleria said that data suggested that more than 90% of mucormycosis patients are diabetic. Unlike last year, this time, even active Covid patients are contracting this disease, he said. He urged doctors to use steroids and immunosuppressants judiciously in their Covid treatment and regularly monitor the blood sugar level of their patients. The Health Ministry has already warned against prolonged use of steroids in Covid patients, as it puts them at high risk of the fungal infection.

Symptoms

The ‘black fungus’ is known to have multiple forms, each attacking different parts of the body. Thus, its symptoms are also wide-ranging and include chest pain, progressive difficulty in breathing, formation of lesions on the skin, eschars, ulcers, headache, fever, formation of black patches in and around the nose, lethargy, eye-pain, blurry vision and further worsening of these.

In a press conference, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Health Minister, warned recovered patients to be on guard against the fungus and not overlook any sign matching the symptoms mentioned in the official advisory. Contact a doctor immediately if you’re witnessing such symptoms.

Is It Contagious?

No, mucormycosis is not contagious. It cannot be transmitted from one person to another. After the trauma that the coronavirus has brought us, it is only natural to fear that a disease is contagious.

What’s The Cure?

Presently, there is no vaccine for this disease. The only cure we have is antifungal medication and surgery. Depending on the type and severity of a case, doctors decide what discipline to follow. In mild cases, administration of antifungals such as amphotericin B, along with some immunity boosting supplements, takes care of the patient, while in severe patients doctors, might have no choice but to perform surgical debridement of the affected tissues or organ to save the patient’s life. As this infection grows rapidly, early diagnosis becomes crucial for successful treatment.

“Team approach works best,” said the ICMR as it plans to form dedicated groups of dentists, ENT specialists, microbiologists, internal medicine experts, surgeons and other medical experts to fight the ‘black fungus’.

How Can It Be Prevented?

It’s difficult to avoid mucormycetes as these are present almost everywhere, but if you are a healthy person, then you shouldn’t worry about it as these are opportunistic pathogens looking for a weak host. In the advisory, the Ministry has given instructions to monitor blood sugar levels of both diabetic and non-diabetic Covid patients. It has also emphasised on the need to judiciously use steroids as well as sterile water in humidifiers for patients undergoing oxygen therapy.

If your immunity is low or you’ve recently had a surgery or transplant, then you should be extra careful. Take immunity boosters. Avoid going near unhygienic or dusty places such as construction sites, excavation sites, etc. If you can’t avoid it, then do not pull your mask down when near these sites. Wash your hands regularly and dry them well. Avoid any direct contact with soil. Keep your house and workplace clean and hygienic. Remember, prevention is always better than cure.

References

To read more about mucormycosis, check out this article by the CDC.

You must be to comment.

More from Alok Mishra

Similar Posts

By Priyanka Shawarma

By India Development Review (IDR)

By Jhatkaa.org

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below