More than 4,300 people have died from the deadly “black fungus” in India in a growing epidemic of the disease.
India has reported 45,374 cases of the rare and dangerous infection, called mucormycosis, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said.
Almost half of them are still under treatment. This aggressive infection affects the nose, eyes and sometimes the brain.
Most of the cases involve patients who have recovered and recovered from Covid-19.
Doctors say the fungus is linked to the steroids used to treat Covid and that diabetics are particularly at risk.
The infection affects the sinuses, brain and lungs and can be fatal in people with diabetes or severely immunocompromised, such as cancer patients or people with HIV / AIDS.
Doctors say the infection appears to strike 12 to 18 days after recovery from Covid.
Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan have reported the highest number of cases, according to official data. Two states – Maharashtra and Gujarat – have killed 1,785.
Dr Raghuraj Hegde, a Bangalore-based eye surgeon who has treated a number of patients with mucormycosis, told the BBC there had been “a massive underestimation of cases and deaths” of the disease.
“Usually, mucormycosis deaths occur weeks or even months after contracting the disease. Our current systems are not good at capturing this data,” he said.
The cases were also underestimated as diagnosis was difficult in small hospitals and in rural areas and only a fraction of cases reached hospitals in large cities, he added.
Doctors said many patients died from the disease before they even reached a hospital, and a number of treated and cured patients appeared to have relapsed.
“We are seeing patients who are aggressively treated for the disease and discharged from hospitals come back with a recurrent infection which manifests as a wider spread of the disease in the eyes or the brain,” said Dr Akshay Nair, an eye surgeon. based in Mumbai. BBC.
Steroids reduce inflammation in the lungs for Covid-19 and appear to help stop some of the damage that can occur when the body’s immune system races to fight the coronavirus.
But they also reduce immunity and increase blood sugar levels in diabetic and non-diabetic patients with Covid-19.
It is believed that this drop in immunity could trigger cases of mucormycosis.
An antifungal injection is the only effective drug against the disease, doctors say.
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