Key to control ‘black fungus’ is judicious steroid use, good control over diabetes: Dr Naresh Trehan

Published: May 21,2021 09:13 PM

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Dr Naresh Trehan on Friday emphaised that the key to control the “opportunistic fungus” is a judicious use of steroids and good control of diabetes.

May 21, 2021: With rising number of mucormycosis or “black fungus” cases seen among Covid-19 patients, Chairperson, Medanta Hopsital, Dr Naresh Trehan on Friday emphaised that the key to control the “opportunistic fungus” is a judicious use of steroids and good control of diabetes.

“The first symptoms of Covid-19-associated Mucormycosis are pain/stuffiness in the nose, inflammation on cheek, fungus patch inside the mouth, swelling in the eyelid etc. It requires aggressive medical treatment,” Dr Trehan told ANI.

“The key to controlling the black fungus is the judicious use of steroids and good control of diabetes,” Trehan said.

The fungal infection, which is caused by exposure to mucor mould that is commonly found in soil, plants, manure, and decaying fruits and vegetables, affects the brain, lungs, and sinuses and can be lethal to those suffering from diabetes and having compromised immune systems such as such as cancer patients or people with HIV/AIDS.

The doctors however, assured that there was no cause for worry about this outbreak as it is treatable if detected on time.

AIIMS Director Dr Guleria pointed out that there has been an increasing trend of rise in fungal infection in the last few weeks being seen among those recovering from COVID-19 with several states reporting an increase in the cases of black fungus. “The Covid-19-linked infection has claimed more than 7,000 lives in the country,” said Dr Guleria.

Mucormycosis, said Dr Guleria, was also reported to some extent during SARS outbreak in the year 2002. “Uncontrolled diabetes with COVID can also predispose to the development of Mucormycosis,” Dr Guleria told ANI.

“Steroid use has become much more in this Covid-19 wave and steroids given when not indicated in mild or early disease can cause a secondary infection. Those given high dose of steroids when not indicated can lead to high blood sugar levels and a high chance of Mucormycosis”, said AIIMS Director.

“We have to see how to prevent this outbreak. Three factors are very important- good control of blood sugar levels, those on steroids must monitor blood sugar levels regularly, and be careful about when to give steroids and their dosage”, said Dr Guleria.

The AIIMS doctor also cautioned against fake news on the subject being being circulated on social media. “There’re a lot of false messages going around that it can happen due to eating raw food but there is no data to suggest that. It also has nothing to do with type of Oxygen being used. It is also being reported in people in home isolation.”

The Union Health Ministry, on Thursday, urged the states to make mucormycosis, a notifiable disease under the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897. The central government made it mandatory for states to report both suspected and confirmed cases of mucormycosis to the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP).

Cases of ‘black fungus’ infection are being reported in several parts of the country. States like Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka, Odisha, Telangana and Tamil Nadu have already declared it a ‘notifiable’ disease under the Epidemic Diseases Act, thereby making it mandatory to report every Mucormycosis case to the state government.

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Friday said there are 197 cases of black fungus in government and private hospitals till date in the national capital. (ANI)