UPDATED: May 20, 2021 16:59 IST
The Health Ministry has asked states and Union Territories to declare black fungus (mucormycosis), an infection primarily affecting Covid-19 recovered patients, as a notifiable disease under Epidemic Diseases Act 1897.
“The fungal infection is leading to mortality amongst Covid-19 patients. All states, private hospitals, and medical colleges must follow protocols issued by ICMR and Union Health Ministry and report all suspected and confirmed cases to the district CMO and IDSP,” the letter by Luv Agarwal, joint secretary, Health Ministry, said.
Rajasthan, Telangana, Punjab have already notified black fungus as an epidemic. This makes it mandatory for all government and private healthcare facilities across the states to report every suspected/confirmed case of the disease.
In Maharashtra, 90 people have died of mucormycosis, while in Rajasthan, there are over 100 cases of black fungus infection.
Mucormycosis is being detected in Covid-19 patients with uncontrolled diabetes and prolonged intensive care unit (ICU) stay.
“Mucormycosis, if uncared for, may turn fatal. Sinuses or lungs of such individuals get affected after fungal spores are inhaled from the air,” the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said in an advisory.
Warning symptoms include pain and redness around the eyes and nose, fever, headache, coughing, shortness of breath, bloody vomits and altered mental status, the advisory stated.
“To prevent the disease, the blood glucose level should be monitored post-Covid discharge and also in diabetic patients. Steroids should be used judiciously with incorrect timing, dose and duration. Clean sterile water should be used in humidifiers during oxygen therapy, and antibiotics and antifungal medicines should be used correctly,” it said.
The disease can be managed by controlling diabetes, discontinuing immuno-modulating drugs, reducing steroids and extensive surgical debridement – to remove all necrotic materials, according to the advisory.
AIIMS has also released new guidelines for detection and care for cases of black fungus.