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Updated July 22nd, 2021 at 10:13 IST

Black fungus claims 4245 lives in India; 84% cases have COVID-19 history

Until July 15, Mucormycosis also known as 'black fungus' has claimed 4245 lives in India, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya informed Rajya Sabha.

Akhil Oka
Black fungus, COVID-19
Image: ANI/PTI | Image:self
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Until July 15, Mucormycosis also known as 'black fungus' has claimed 4245 lives in India, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya informed Rajya Sabha. He was responding to Congress MP L Hanumanthaiah's starred question regarding the plan to tackle the outbreak of fungal infections on Tuesday. Mandaviya mentioned that the Centre requested the states to submit details about the cases and deaths due to black fungus to get an objective assessment of the infection in the community.

He noted, "As on 15th July 2021, a total of 45,432 cases of Mucormycosis have been reported by States and UTs of which 21,085 are under treatment and 4,252 have died. Most common presentations of Mucormycosis include Rhinocerebral (77.6%), Cutaneous (4.3%) and Pulmonary (3.0%). A large majority of Mucormycosis patients had reported (84.4%) a history of COVID-19."

Moreover, the Union Health Minister listed the steps taken by the Centre to increase the production of Liposomal Amphotericin B and Amphotericin B Deoxycholate- the drugs used to treat mucormycosis. He highlighted that the treatment of black fungus and other fungal infections is provided free of cost in all Central government hospitals and autonomous institutions under the Health Ministry. In addition to this, the Ayushman Bharat scheme beneficiaries can also avail the free treatment of post-COVID complications such as black fungus. 

What is black fungus? 

Mucormycosis is a fungal infection that mainly affects people who are on medication for other health problems that reduce their ability to fight environmental pathogens. While it is very rare, it can lead to loss of the upper jaw and sometimes even the eye. Sinuses of such individuals get affected after fungal spores are inhaled from the air. Warning signs include pain and redness around the eyes and/or nose, fever, headache, coughing, shortness of breath, bloody vomit and altered mental status. According to the government's advisory, the black fungus infection should be suspected when there is sinusitis, one-sided facial pain, numbness or swelling, toothache, blurred or double vision with pain, chest pain, etc. 

This infection has been witnessed in cases of uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, immunosuppression by steroids, prolonged ICU stay, and co-morbidities. Some of the tips for prevention include using masks at dusty construction sites, maintaining personal hygiene including through scrub bath, using steroids and antibiotics judiciously, controlling hyperglycemia and monitoring blood glucose levels post-COVID-19 discharge. It is imperative that people should not lose crucial time to initiate treatment for Mucormycosis, the Centre has advised.

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Published July 22nd, 2021 at 10:13 IST

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