As if COVID-19 was not enough that to add to the miseries of people, Mucormycosis or Black Fungus- an aggressive and invasive fungal infection caused by a group of molds called Mucormycetes, has also come to the forefront. Many questions regarding its treatment have been looming, and it needs to be made clear that it can be treated with prescribed antifungal medicine, usually amphotericin B, posaconazole, or isavuconazole. These medicines are given through a vein (amphotericin B, posaconazole, isavuconazole) or by mouth (posaconazole, isavuconazole).
Usually injected into the vein, Amphotericin B is used in the treatment of severe fungal infections. It kills fungi by destroying the fungal cell membrane, and can sometimes result in common side effects like nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, headache, loss of appetite, stomach cramp, anemia (low number of red blood cells), heartburn, hyperventilation (rapid breathing).
To be taken orally, Posaconazole delayed-release tablets and oral suspension are used to prevent serious fungal infections in adults and teenagers with a weakened ability to fight infection. It works by slowing the growth of fungi that causes the infection, and can sometimes result in side effects like fever, headache, chills or shaking, dizziness, weakness, swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain among others.
Formulated in IV and oral capsule preparations as a prodrug, Isavuconazole is a particularly attractive option for the treatment of fungal infections due to several characteristics. It is relatively well tolerated, with the most common adverse events being nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Less commonly headache, rash, and peripheral edema occur.
Formerly known as zygomycosis, 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. What is happening right now is, people with diabetes and obesity are developing more severe COVID-19 infections, and are receiving corticosteroids, which are frequently used to treat COVID-19, but the corticosteroids – along with diabetes – are increasing the risk of mucormycosis. Warning signs include pain and redness around the eyes and/or nose, fever, headache, coughing, shortness of breath, bloody vomit, and altered mental status.
It is pertinent to mention here that Mucormycosis or Black fungus infection cases are on a rise across India with Maharashtra reporting the highest - 2000 cases and 90 deaths, followed by Gujarat with 1163 cases. Madhya Pradesh has reported 281 such cases and 27 deaths, followed by Uttar Pradesh (73 cases, 2 deaths) and Telangana (60 cases). Telangana, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Haryana have notified Black fungus as a disease under the Epidemic Act currently in force in all states, to let patients avail treatment under govt insurance.
Meanwhile, the Union Joint Health Secretary Lav Agarwal, earlier in the day, has urged states to declare mucormycosis or Black Fungus as a notifiable disease under Epidemic Diseases Act 1897. This move will mandate all government and private hospitals to follow ICMR's guidelines for screening, diagnosis, management of mucormycosis and report all such cases to respective Chief Medical officers.
Disclaimer: The content provided above is in no way intended a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, especially related to COVID-19.