NEW DELHI (AP) — Doctors in India are fighting a fatal fungalpatients or those who have recovered from the disease amid a coronavirus surge that has driven the country’s fatalities to nearly 300,000.
The life-threatening condition, known as mucormycosis, is relatively rare, but doctors suspect that the sudden increase in the infection could further complicate India’s fight against the pandemic.
since the pandemic began, almost half occurring in the past two months. On Sunday, the said 3,741 new deaths, driving India’s confirmed fatalities to 299,266.
It also reported 240,842 new infections, asremained below 300,000 weekly. The numbers are almost certainly undercounted, with many cases likely being missed due to limited testing.
new infections in India, which had been rising steeply, may finally be slowing. But there are some early indications that mucormycosis, also known as “black fungus,” is fast becoming a cause of worry. SHRINGVERPUR, INDIA – MAY 20: (EDITOR’S NOTE: Image depicts death.) Bodies, some of which are believed to be , are seen partially exposed in shallow sand graves after rains washed away the top layer of sand at a cremation ground on the banks of the Ganges River on May 20, 2021, in Shringverpur, northwest of Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India. Gravediggers at the site said a threefold increase in the number of bodies arriving for burials and cremations . Local media reported that local media has teams of police and local officials have been patrolling several areas along the river in and Bihar to discourage burials on its banks and warn people of possible infection risks. India’s prolonged and debilitating wave of has reached deep into rural India. The true extent of devastation may never be known because of a lack of widespread testing or reliable data. (Photo by Ritesh Shukla/Getty Images)
Mucormycosis is caused by exposure to mucor mold, commonly found in soil, air, and even humans’ nose and mucus. It spreads through the respiratory tract and erodes facial structures. Sometimes, doctors have to surgically remove the eye to stop the infection from reaching the brain.
On Saturday, federal minister Sadananda Gowda said nearly 9,000in India, leading to a shortage of Amphotericin B, the drug used to treat the condition.
Gowda didn’t share the fatalities, buthave said more than 250 have died because of the disease.
needs, Gowda said.
Mucormycosis has a high mortality rate and was already present inbefore the pandemic. It is not contagious, but its frequency in the last doctors shocked.
“It is a new challenge, and things are looking bleak,” said Ambrish Mithal, the chairman and head of the endocrinology and diabetes department at Max Healthcare, a chain of private hospitals in India.
Mithal said the fungal infection preys on patients with weakenedand underlying conditions, particularly diabetes and irrational steroids. Uncontrolled blood sugar can put immunocompromised people at a of contracting the disease. Earlier, I came across just a few cases every year, but the current infection rate is frightening,” said Mithal.
Thehas already taken a toll. Now health that over-the-counter medication, including steroids, can increase the prevalence of mucormycosis.
SK Pandey, a medical officer at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital inLucknow city, said that unqualified doctors gave steroids to patients in many rural areas without considering whether they required it or not.
“This has led to increasein smaller cities where the patient has not even been hospitalized,” he said.
India’sthe spread of the condition and declare it an epidemic, making it mandatory for all medical facilities to report the cases to a national surveillance network.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday called the disease a “new challenge.”
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