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A Black Fungus Cloud Looms Over Vadodara

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

The current condition of the people of Vadodara is threatened by the increasing cases of  ‘black fungus‘ infection also known as mucormycosis. As of 25th May 2021, the cases of such an infection were in the range of 200-300. The rise in the number of such cases has become rapid and has caused a shortage of the medicine that is used to treat it. The medicine used is Amphotericin B, a drug that was barely used is now an essential thing for the survival of people.

The rise in the number of cases is said to be due to various reasons but mainly Covid-19 infected patients have become more susceptible to the fungus called Mucor. This is due to unnecessary prescription of steroids by the doctors for a speedy recovery. The doctors are not to be blamed for wanting a speedy recovery considering the number of patients they have been overburdened with. A lot of medicine that is prescribed other than steroids are immunosuppressants. This leads to lowering of immunity and hence, the patient becomes vulnerable to a normal air flora fungus i.e. Mucor. Diabetic patients are also vulnerable to this threat.

It the microscopic picture of the pathogen causing Mucormycosis
Mucor diagram as seen under the microscope. Source: Ananthanarayan and Paniker’s Textbook of Microbiology.

According to the doctors, the only reliable method for testing is culturing of the patient’s sample on Sabouraud’s Dextrose agar with Chloramphenicol. The process of culturing gives after 24-48 hours with more time required to identify the exact organism. Since the symptoms of the Black fungus infection are very vague like headache behind the eyes, proper precautions are the need of the hour.

Post-Covid care being of utmost importance when it comes to avoiding being infected. This is because after fighting the coronavirus the body becomes weak and low in immunity to fight even weak normal flora microorganisms that can now turn opportunistic and wreak havoc. Maintenance of hygiene, washing of face masks regularly, and avoiding the usage of masks for really long durations are also a few of the measures that are to be taken. It is also to be kept in mind that fungi can grow under cold conditions and hence, consumption of food that is refrigerated for a long time may also become the cause of infection.

Mucormycosis is not contagious which means it doesn’t spread by being in contact with a lot of people. But negligence on our part concerning hygiene due to sheer high numbers of patients has caused this outbreak. The fungus we grew in school on bread is now responsible for the deaths of people having a mortality rate of 50 percent. Oxygen cylinders that were not properly disinfected, excess inhalation of steam, wearing a mask soaked by perspiration, etc. have only fuelled the chances of mucor in the human body.

As stated earlier, the Amphotericin B shortage is being faced by the medical staff. According to a doctor in Vadodara’s COVID Control War Room, the medicine had less demand so it was restocked annually. The sudden surge in cases has them scrambling for this particular medicine which has evidently run out.

Feature image is for representational purposes only.

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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.

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