At a time when the world thought that the COVID-19 pandemic couldn't get any worse, doctors in Ahmedabad have reported about a rare and serious fungal infection that is preying on COVID-19 patients and also on those who had recently recovered.
Ahmedabad -based retina and ocular trauma surgeon Dr Parth Rana has said that five cases of mucormycosis have been detected. Mucormycosis is an uncommon fungal infection with mortality rate of 50%. Two patients have already died while two surviving patients have lost their eyesight, as per The Times of India report.
Four male patients were aged between 34 and 47 years. The fifth patient was a 67-year-old man who has rushed to a Ahmedabad hospital on late Friday night. He was in critical condition. All patients had enlarged eyeballs which were bulging out of the eye sockets.
"All the four patients had a history of uncontrolled sugar and they were on strong drugs including steroids. Their immunity was very low. We believe that these two conditions led to the rapid spread," said Rana, according to the daily. Rana further stated that before COVID-19 infection, mucormycosis takes around 15-30 days to spread but after COVID-19 infection the spread occur within just 2-3 days.
This is not the first incidence of mucormycosis cases in the country. Infectious diseases specialist Dr Atul Patel has earlier warned of the growing incidence of the serious infection in COVID-19 patients. Patel was part of the national study on mucormycosis fungal infection in the country.
"We have recorded 19 cases of mucormycosis infection in COVID-19 recovered patients in the past three months. This is 4.5 times higher than the burden reported conventionally before the pandemic. This is a serious issue and healthcare providers should be extra-cautious as it has a mortality rate of 50%," added Patel.
He also said that poor sugar control, high doses of steroids and compromised immunity as a result of immune dysregulation and hyper-inflammation in COVID-19 patients have made them more vulnerable to mucormycosis.
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