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90 people who recovered from Covid-19 have died from a rare black fungal infection in India

Black fungus kills 90 recovered Covid patients in India
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At least 90 people who recovered from Covid-19 have died from a rare black fungal infection “epidemic” in the western Indian state of Maharashtra.

 

There are currently 850 people hospitalised with mucormycosis in Maharashtra, home to India’s financial capital of Mumbai, and authorities have warned they will have to treat 5,000 patients over the next few months, Telegraph reports.

 

Instances of mucormycosis – known as “black fungus” – were extremely rare before India’s second wave of Covid-19 and only affected people who were severely immunocompromised, including diabetics or those suffering from HIV/Aids.

 

 


Without early treatment, the black fungus has a mortality rate of 50 per cent, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Preventing, and doctors in India are now being forced to remove the eyes or jaws of patients to save lives.

 

While data on its prevalence pre-Covid-19 is limited, the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu which has a population of 72 million only saw 9.5 cases on average annually between 2015 and 2020.

 

The state of Gujarat, which has a similar-sized population to Tamil Nadu, currently has at least 1,163 patients undergoing treatment at eight hospitals in five large cities.

 

“We have seen more cases of black fungus in the past week than we normally treat in two years,” tweeted Dr Arvinder Singh Soin, a leading Indian doctor in Delhi.

 

The surge is being blamed on the rampant, long-term prescription of steroids to treat Covid-19 infections by India’s overwhelmed doctors. Only 41 cases had been detected among Covid-19 patients worldwide until March.

 

 


While the steroids are proving successful in treating Covid-19 in many patients, they suppress the victim’s immune system, making them more vulnerable to a mucormycosis infection.

 

Doctors say diabetes patients are most at risk. India has an estimated 77 million diabetics, second only to China, although millions of cases are believed to be undiagnosed.

 

It is also suggested that long-term oxygenation of critical Covid-19 patients can also dry out the nasal cavity and leave someone more vulnerable to infection, particularly if hygiene practices are ignored.

 

The authorities in the northern state of Rajasthan, which has at least 100 active cases, have declared a mucormycosis “epidemic”, while Indian states are now scrambling to procure doses of amphotericin B, an injection that is in short supply but is the only currently available treatment.

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