New Delhi: As doctors at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital witnessed 12 cases of Mucormycosis fungus which has been triggered by Covid-19, various doctors told The Sunday Guardian it is mainly found in diabetic patients or those who have a weak immune system.

Mucormycosis, also known as Black Fungus, is a serious but rare fungal infection caused by a group of molds called mucormycetes, which is live throughout the environment. Mucormycosis fungus is not a new disease, but the severity of it is more dangerous when Covid patients develop this disease.

According to doctors at the hospital, Mucormycosis causes loss of eyesight, removal of nose and jaw bones, and 50% mortality, where there is brain involvement.

Pradeep Rangappa, Internal Medicine, told The Sunday Guardian, “Mucormycosis is not a new disease, but coronavirus is triggering Mucormycosis, and it is a life-threatening fungal infection. And the patients with co-morbid conditions are more vulnerable to this fungal infection.”

The symptoms are face numbness, one-side nose obstructions or swelling of eyes or cheek, and black dry crusts in the nose.

Asked the reason for developing this infection, Rangappa said, “When a sick Covid patient, especially a diabetic patient, is admitted and put under ventilator, steroids are administered to such patients in order to save their lives. After administering steroids, diabetic patients are diagnosed with this fungal infection.”

This happens because the glycemic or glucose level shoots up substantially after administering steroids, claims Rangappa.

Dr Manish Munjal, Senior ENT Surgeon at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, told The Sunday Guardian, “Because of the weakened immune system among Covid patients, there is an opportunistic lethal fungal infection, Mucormycosis, that attacks the body. Now this is happening because there is a huge subset of immuno-suppressive people infected with Covid; we are witnessing a surge of cases.”

He further added that Covid patients are considered ‘untouchables’, and patients and doctors do not see each other for months, due to which identifying these symptoms become difficult for doctors. He also told The Sunday Guardian that this is because of low blood cells in the body which makes fungus its easy target.

Talking about solutions, Rangappa told The Sunday Guardian, “Steroids are given when patients are under oxygen. Giving steroids has become the standard care because it is life-saving. It is important for a patient to keep glucose in control and ensure that his/her blood level does not shoot up.”

Munjal said, “Early detection of symptoms like cheek swelling, blackening etc need to be reported to the doctors immediately. Furthermore, if a CT scan finds a mucormycosis fungus, then there is a gold standard treatment and also removing dead tissue through surgery.”