Like many other parts of India, Jammu & Kashmir reported its first case of Mucormycosis (black fungus) on Friday creating panic among the masses.
Â Mucormycosis is not a new disease and it has been in existence even before the pandemic. However its incidence was very low. Now, owing to Covid-19, this rare but fatal fungal infection assumed significance as it started affecting patients who are either recovering or have recovered from Covid-19.
The main reasons for this infection are diabetes, indiscriminate use of antibiotics, oxygen therapy, steroids or intake of oxygen from oxygen cylinders with contaminated tubes and prongs.
Black fungus can be life-threatening in diabetic or severely immunocompromised individuals.
However, there is no need to panic; several simple steps should be followed to lower the risk of black fungus:
> Creating awareness in society about the disease will be a key to the fight black fungus.
> Monitor symptoms, if you have a fever, nasal congestion, eye pain, watery eyes and headache after recovery from Covid-19 consult a doctor for checkup.
> Do not self-medicate, steroids should be used only if prescribed by doctor as black fungus is occurring due to overuse of steroids.
>Â Vaccinate yourself, though there is no relation between taking the vaccine and fungal infection. However, if you take a vaccine shot, you are likely to have a mild Covid19 infection which won't require steroids and hence you are unlikely to have the black fungus.
> Patients recovered from severe Covid19 should monitor blood glucose level after getting discharged from hospital.
> Covid19 patients should remain indoors until they regain their natural strength and immunity.
> Ensuring sterile humidifiers that are being used during oxygen therapy.
> Covid19 patients engaged in farming or gardening should temporarily stop the work.
> People who are engaged in farming should wear shoes, full sleeve shirts and gloves while handling soil, moss or manure
> Wear masks at all places like hospitals,Â dusty sites etc.
Lastly, air sampling for testing the presence of spores should be considered. Separate special wards should be set up for treatment of black fungus cases and there should be clear guidelines on the judicious use of steroids, use of antibiotics/antifungals, apart from use of clean sterile water for humidifiers during oxygen therapy and proper maintenance of pipes and nasal prongs across all healthcare settings.
Dr Imtiyaz Wani