The Centre on Sunday released advisory on mucormycosis, a fungal infection being found in COVID-19 patients with uncontrolled diabetes and prolonged intensive care unit (ICU) stay, and said it may turn fatal if care is not taken.
"Mucormycosis is a fungal infection that mainly affects people who are on medication for other health problems that reduces their ability to fight environmental pathogens," the evidence based advisory for screening, diagnosis and management of the disease, released by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Union Health Ministry, said.
Sinuses or lungs of individuals suffering from the disease get affected after fungal spores are inhaled from the air. "Mucormycosis - if uncared for - may turn fatal," it added.
Pain and redness around eyes and/or nose, fever, headache, coughing, shortness of breath, bloody vomits and altered mental status are the symptoms of the disease.
Uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, immunosuppression by steroids, prolonged ICU stay, malignancy and voriconazole therapy may lead to the infection, the advisory said
In COVID-19 patients with diabetes and immuno-suppressed individuals, one must suspect mucormycosis if there is sinusitis, one-side facial pain or numbness or swelling, blackish discoloration over the bridge of the nose or palate, toothache, loosening of teeth, blurred or double vision with pain, skin lesion, thrombosis and necrosis, chest pain and worsening respiratory symptoms, it said.
ICMR advised use of masks while visiting dusty construction sites; wearing shoes, long trousers, long sleeve shirts and gloves while handling soil (gardening), moss or manure; and maintaining personal hygiene through scrub bath to prevent mucormycosis.
The infection can be managed by controlling diabetes, reducing steroids, discontinuing immunomodulating drugs, and extensive surgical debridement to remove all necrotic materials, the advisory said.
To prevent the disease, blood glucose level should be monitored post-COVID discharge and also in diabetic patients; steroids should be used judiciously in correct timing, dose and duration; clean sterile water should be used in humidifiers during oxygen therapy; and antibiotics and antifungal medicines should be used correctly, it said.