Doctors at a leading healthcare facility in Hyderabad have come across Covid-19 positive patients who are suffering from mucormycosis, a deadly fungal infection, and a silent killer.
In the past 3-4 weeks, a total of five patients have been reported with this infection at Continental Hospitals, indicating rise in the condition among the Covid-hit, the hospital said on Monday.
According to doctors, prolonged hospitalisation and continuous use of corticosteroids, which has become standard for Covid-19 treatment, is resulting in lowering immune system. This could lead to susceptibility to infections like mucormycosis causing irreversible damage to organs and threatening life of infected patients.
“Swelling around the eyes, one-sided facial or eye pain, decreased sensation over cheeks, blood-stained nasal discharge, among others are symptoms of mucormycosis infection and such cases should be reported immediately for medical attention. Such patients will be administered with certain antifungal drugs or a surgical debridement will be performed depending on the condition to reduce the disease burden,” said Dr Dushyanth Ganesuni, Consultant, ENT, Head & Neck Surgeon and Laryngologist, Continental Hospitals.
“Unjustified and self-prescribed use of antibiotics and steroids to treat Covid-19 symptoms is dangerous. Such a practice will affect the immune system and could lead to secondary to infections like mucormycosis. Hence, even for conditions like fevers, cold, cough, it is suggested one seeks medical advice before resorting to any form of self-medication,” added Dr. Dushyanth Ganesuni.
Several studies from around the world have indicated that secondary fungal infections among critically ill Covid-19 positive patients are in the range of 5-23 per cent while mortality rate among these fungus infected patients increases to 53 per cent from 31 per cent in non-infected Covid-19 positive patients.
In India, at least 40 cases of mucormycosis, also known as black fungus, have been reported from Gujarat’s Surat among those who have recovered from Covid-19. Of the 40 patients identified, eight have lost their eyesight, and it is being attributed to this secondary infection.
The treating doctors and ICU specialists should be aware of this condition and a high degree of suspicion is needed particularly in patients with severe Covid-19 infection with other associated risk factors. This entity is particularly evident in the middle and later stages of the disease. Rational use of steroids, strict control of blood sugars, maintaining nasal hygiene by using saline isotonic nasal spray and to use 0.5 per cent Betadine nasal drops, two drops in both nostrils twice/thrice daily as a prophylactic treatment in these patients is recommended only under medical supervision.