Covid-19 triggering rare, deadly fungal infection, claim Indian hospitals

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Dec 15, 2020, 09:31 AM(IST)

File photo Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

In the last 15 days, ENT surgeons at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH) have seen 13 cases of "COVID-19-triggered mucormycosis".

At a time when the world thought that the COVID-19 pandemic couldn't get any worse, doctors in New Delhi and Ahmedabad have reported about a rare and serious fungal infection that is preying on COVID-19 patients and also on those who had recently recovered.

'Mucormycosis' is a deadly fungal infection "triggered by COVID-19", due to which nearly half of the recovering Covid patients have lost their eyesight.

In the last 15 days, ENT surgeons at New Delhi's Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH) have seen 13 cases of "COVID-19-triggered mucormycosis".

In Ahmedabad, two patients have already died while two surviving patients have lost their eyesight. 

Four male patients were aged between 34 and 47 years. The fifth patient was a 67-year-old man who has rushed to an Ahmedabad hospital on late Friday night. He was in critical condition. All patients had enlarged eyeballs which were bulging out of the eye sockets.  

This alarming affliction, although rare, is not new. What is new is COVID-19 triggering mucormycosis, they said.

Black Fungus or mucormycosis has been a cause of disease and death of patients in transplants, and ICU and immunodeficient individuals since long. However, it is the rapid increase in the numbers seen in unsuspected recovering COVID-19 patients that is causing the grave concern, the SGRH said in a statement.

"In the last 15 days, ENT surgeons have seen 13 cases of COVID-19-triggered mucormycosis in over 50 per cent patients, with loss of eyesight, and removal of nose and jaw bone needed," it said.

Mortality is currently being seen in the range of 50 per cent (five patients), with certain deaths when there is involvement of brain, the hospital authorities said.

Doctors had to do these resections in about 10 patients over the last fortnight, with "about 50 per cent losing their eyesight permanently". Five of these patients required critical care support due to associated complications. There also have been five mortalities so far in this subgroup, the statement said.

According to Manish Munjal, senior ENT surgeon, at the hospital, "The frequency with which we are witnessing the occurrence of COVID-19-triggered mucormycosis with high morbidity and mortality has never been seen before and is shocking and alarming."

Varun Rai, consultant ENT surgeon at SGRH said, "Early clinical suspicion on symptoms such as nose obstruction, swelling in the eye or cheeks, and black dry crusts in the nose should immediately prompt the conduct of a biopsy in the OPD and start of the antifungal therapy as early as possible".

Delhi recorded 1,376 fresh COVID-19 cases on Monday, the lowest in over three-and-a-half months, even as the death count mounted to 10,074 with 60 new fatalities.

The positivity rate dropped to 2.15 per cent from 2.74 per cent on Sunday, authorities said.

The Monday bulletin said 5,83,509 patients have recovered, been discharged or migrated so far.

(With inputs from agencies)

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