Preparedness to combat the epidemic in the setting of a pandemic

Last week, the Union Health Ministry notified all the states to declare Mucormycosis, also known as black fungus, an epidemic under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. The government took the decision after the country witnessed a steep rise in the number of Mucormycosis cases among COVID-19 patients.

As per the latest official data, the country has witnessed 11,717 cases of the disease so far. The states which have a record maximum number of cases are Gujarat (2859), Maharashtra (2770), Andhra Pradesh (768), Madhya Pradesh (752), Telangana (744).

Mucormycosis is a fungal infection that mainly affects people on medication for other health problems that reduce their ability to fight environmental pathogens. Sinuses or lungs of such individuals get affected after fungal spores are inhaled from the air. 

The symptoms include pain and redness around the eyes and/or nose, fever, headache, coughing, shortness of breath, bloody vomits, altered mental status.

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COVID-19 patients, diabetics or immunosuppressed individuals can be suspected of the disease when they show the following conditions- 

  • Sinusitis – nasal blockage or congestion, nasal discharge (blackish/bloody), local pain on the cheekbone 
  • One-sided facial pain, numbness or swelling 
  • Blackish discolouration over the bridge of nose/palate Toothache, loosening of teeth, jaw involvement 
  • Blurred or double vision with pain; fever, skin lesion; thrombosis & necrosis (eschar) 
  • Chest pain, pleural effusion, haemoptysis, worsening of respiratory symptoms

The acute shortage of the drug liposomal Amphotericin B, the primary drug used to treat the condition, has added to the problems. The country may have to largely depend on imports of the drug as its production is very limited here. Union Minister Sadananda Gowda on Wednesday tweeted that additional 29,250 vials of Amphotericin– B drug, used in the treatment of Mucormycosis, have been allocated to all the States/UTs based on the number of patients under treatment. 

While we are already facing the horrors of an epidemic within a pandemic, the country has started witnessing a different type of fungal infection – Aspergillus Flavus, also known as white fungus. Doctors at Delhi’s Ganga Ram Hospital witnessed a case of white fungus where multiple perforations were found throughout the intestine and identified it as a very rare case. 

There is a lot of fake information about the disease doing rounds on social media. In a move to disseminate correct and authentic information regarding the disease, Bengaluru-based MedPiper Technologies, Inc, which matches verified Doctors and nurses with hospitals and telemedicine platforms, is conducting a webinar on ‘Preparedness to Combat Mucormycosis Disease & White Fungus’ on 5th June (Saturday) starting 2 pm. During this session, the distinguished speakers who will provide their valuable inputs are – Dr Satyendra Narayan Singh – Professor & HOD – Microbiology (The Patna Medical College) and Dr Gokul Ramani, M.D. Albert Einstein College of Medicine- Jacobi Medical Center, Bronx, New York.

Some of the topics which will be discussed during the session are as follows:

  • Current COVID Scenarios World Wide & Special Focus – India  
  • Fungal Co-Infections associated with COVID-19 
  • Fungal Infections & Infection control practices   
  • Approach to Mucormycosis
  • Treating Mucormycosis, White Fungus 
  • Microbiological Diagnosis 
  • Post-Covid Mucormycosis

Those who are interested in attending the event can register here or may contact for more details. E-certificates will be provided to all the participants.

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