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Black fungus: Top doctors answer all FAQs about new threat in Covid times

At Doctors’ Roundtable with Rajdeep Sardesai, top experts answer all FAQs as black fungus becomes a new threat in Covid times.

UPDATED: May 21, 2021 09:56 IST

At Doctors’ Roundtable with India Today TV Consulting Editor Rajdeep Sardesai, top experts answer all your FAQs as black fungus or mucormycosis becomes a new threat across states in Covid times.

Q: Can you demystify black fungus? And why has it raised its head in Covid times?

DR. SUBRAMANIAN SWAMINATHAN, DIRECTOR, INFECTIOUS DISEASES, GLENEAGLES GLOBAL HEALTH CITY, CHENNAI:

We have been aware of such fungal infections in the most vulnerable, including diabetics with poorly controlled sugar levels or kidney failure, those undergoing severe cancer treatment, and solid organ transplants. Outside of these, black fungus is fairly rare. It can affect any part of the body. The typical presentation involves sinuses, spreading to the eyes, dental areas, and upwards into the brain. It can progress very fast. It can be fatal if not picked up early.

Covid 1.0 involved older people who are more likely to be diabetic, have weak immune systems and receive steroids. But we didn’t see many mucormycosis cases in round one. The question is: what changed? The fungus has entered the equation in this round, and we need to ask ourselves what we did wrong. If you have a fungal infection, why isn’t it going to the lungs? Because that’s the most damaged part. The reason is: it’s airborne. Refilled cylinders and other such repurposed equipment have a very high fungal burden. And when you start blasting into people’s nostrils, you’re depositing it right into their sinuses. It’s a tinderbox waiting to go off. My strong suspicion is: it’s the quality of air that’s tipping the balance this time.

Also Read | Govt asks states to declare black fungus as a notifiable disease under Epidemic Act

Q: What are the symptoms to look out for?

DR. RAHUL MODI,-ENT & HEAD AND NECK SURGEON, DR. L H HIRANANDANI HOSPITAL, MUMBAI:

Studies have shown that many healthy individuals may harbour fungus in their nostrils, but the fungus starts invading the system only after immunity drops. It’s a combination of excessive use of steroids and high blood sugar, especially when a patient is discharged from the hospital and has a poor follow-up. Symptoms can be nose block, watering of the nose, facial pain and dental pain. We need to be highly suspicious, especially in the first 60 days, if the patient has received excessive steroids, oxygen and used a ventilator for a long.

Q: Is there a direct link between your failure to control sugar levels and black fungus?

DR. SUJEET JHA, PRINCIPAL DIRECTOR, ENDOCRINOLOGY, MAX HEALTHCARE, SAKET:

One-third of India’s population is vulnerable to diabetes. We always use steroids as well. But we never had Covid, nasal cannula, steroids and diabetes together. We have also used a lot of antibiotics. Each home has steroids stored. Our body has a strong immune system. Normally, this fungus will not invade our body unless you’re vulnerable. Unless your immunity is compromised.

Also, Read | Home testing kit for Covid-19 gets ICMR nod. Watch how to test yourself

Q: Many patients are complaining of double vision, blurred vision and complete blindness. What has changed so suddenly?

DR. NAVIN SAKHUJA, LEADING OPHTHALMOLOGIST:

It’s a combination of factors. People with diabetes are more prone to black fungus. They are the ones who stay in hospitals longer because they get more severe Covid. Reduced immunity and steroid use are other factors. The oxygen has to pass through fluid which may or may not be clean enough.

Q: What precautions should people take if they have Covid and high sugar? Can the use of damp masks also be a reason?

DR. SUBRAMANIAN SWAMINATHAN:

The initial deposit of fungus in patients is very high. Masks don’t harbour such large volumes of fungus. This doesn’t go from person to person.

Q: What’s the treatment that you recommend?

DR. RAHUL MODI:

If you had Covid and received oxygen or steroids or both, you should be on high alert for symptoms. You should approach a local ENT specialist or your family doctor. Once diagnosed, an early MRI or a simple nasal endoscopy can give us good clues. We need to take these patients urgently for surgery, put them on life-saving drugs and control their sugar.

READ

Sourcehttps://www.indiatoday.in/coronavirus-outbreak/story/black-fungus-top-doctors-answer-all-faqs-about-new-threat-in-covid-times-1805011-2021-05-20

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