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What Is The “Black Fungus” And How It Is Affecting COVID Patients In India?

A few months ago, India was hit with the second wave of the Corona Virus. The surge began in mid-March and the rate of infections rose rapidly, recording more than 400,000 daily cases on Friday, April 30th. Many cities reported a shortage of beds, oxygen, and medicine. Countless people have died without getting timely treatment. And now, there are risks to the health of recovering patients as well.

For the past 2 months, it has grown clear that India is fighting a battle not only against the second wave of COVID-19 but also a rare infection called Mucormycosis or “the black fungus.” There have been reports of an unprecedented increase in Mucormycosis cases in the last two months, especially among patients recovering from COVID. 

What Is Mucormycosis?

Mucormycosis (also called “Zygomycosis” or “black fungal infection”) is a rare but serious fungal infection. It is caused by the fungi of order Mucorales, which is found in soil, plants, decaying fruits and vegetables, and even in the nose and mucus of healthy people. It affects the sinuses, the lungs, and the brain and can be life-threatening for people with reduced immunity. It’s important to have it diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

Who Is At Risk Of Contracting This Disease?

Why Are Covid Patients At Risk?

In recent months, there has been a rise in the number of people infected with Mucormycosis, particularly among those recovered from or undergoing treatment for COVID-19. Though the exact cause for the rise is still under investigation, it is believed that the trigger for the increase in cases could be the steroids used to control COVID symptoms. The steroids reduce the inflammation of the lungs caused by COVID and appear to help reduce the damage caused by the body’s immune system going into overdrive to fight off Coronavirus. But they also reduce immunity, which could lead to the patient contracting Mucormycosis. It could also be due to use of unclean masks and tubings used for delivering oxygen, or the derangement or increase of blood sugar levels. It is also possible that COVID 19 itself is responsible for reduced immunity, making patients more susceptible to this fungal infection.

mucormycosis

Mucormycosis is incredibly aggressive and has an overall mortality rate of 50%, so it is important to be on the lookout for the symptoms. If the infection is caught in the early stages it can be treated without too much risk to the patient.

What Are The Symptoms Of Mucormycosis?

mobility of teeth
Mobility of teeth
Gum abscess or boils
Gum abscess or boils
Swelling gums
Swelling gums
swelling around eyes
Swelling around eyes

Patients who have recovered from COVID-19 recently (within 2-3 months) or who are currently undergoing treatment should keep a lookout for the above symptoms. If any occur or if the patient has reason to be worried, he/she should consult with a doctor immediately. It is best to get diagnosed as soon as possible to prevent future complications.

How Is Mucormycosis Diagnosed?

The treatment of Mucormycosis involves oral and maxillofacial surgeons, ENT specialists, eye specialists, infectious disease specialists, and if necessary neurologists or neurosurgeons. If a patient is concerned about being infected by this fungal infection, they must go to one of these specialists for consultation as early as possible.

If Mucormycosis is suspected, multiple examinations of the patient are conducted. 

  • First, a clinical examination of the patient is conducted. 
  • Then the ENT specialist conducts a nasal endoscopy and the eye specialist examines the eyes of the patient. 
  • Sometimes, a CT or MRI of the patient is also requested. 
  • Finally, the diagnosis is confirmed after a careful examination of a biopsy taken from the infected site.

Dr. Vikram Pandit is a visiting consultant and a consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon at some of the top hospitals and clinics in Pune like Poona Hospital and Research Centre, Ratna Memorial Hospital, Pandit Clinic, and KEM Hospital. His priority is the patient’s health and safety, and so he conducts very careful and thorough examinations before giving a diagnosis. His experience gives him the qualifications to quickly judge if a patient needs immediate and urgent treatment.

 To book an appointment with Dr. Vikram Pandit, click here

How Is Mucormycosis Treated?

There has been an increase in cases of Mucormycosis in the past 2 months. The disease has begun to affect people who did not have any previous medical condition that would have them susceptible to the “black fungus” like diabetes. The rapid spread of the infection means that if the patients are diagnosed too late, it may lead to severe complications post-treatment like blindness. It can even lead to death. The best way to beat the disease is through early diagnosis and treatment. Thus, it’s important for all patients recovering from COVID to keep an eye on themselves. Seek help immediately if you observe any of the symptoms of Mucormycosis or are concerned about your oral health contact Dr. Vikram Pandit at Pandit Clinic here. 

Dr Vikram Pandit, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

Dr. Vikram Pandit

BDS, MDS Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon

Meet the Doctor

BDS, MDS Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon

Dr. Vikram is a visiting consultant and consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon at the top hospitals in Pune like Poona Hospital and Research Centre, Ratna Memorial Hospital, Pandit Clinic and KEM Hospital. Dr. Vikram has done clinical fellowship in craniofacial surgery with focus on surgery for cleft lip and palate deformities, orthognathic surgery and surgery for sleep related disordered breathing (SRDB). He has trained for advanced management for Facial Trauma, from Taiwan. He has also attended various seminars and done workshops related to Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Dr. Vikram is also a  co- author of a chapter for a textbook. He has been invited as a speaker for number of conferences in India as well as Internationally.

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Dr. Vikram Pandit

Dr Vikram is a well trained Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon. He completed his international fellowship in Craniofacial Surgery from Taiwan. His areas of interest include Oral surgeries, management of wisdom teeth, maxillofacial trauma, corrective jaw surgery, cleft lip and cleft palate. He has also trained in surgeries for Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and snoring.