BENGALURU: Eight private and government hospitals in Bengaluru alone have recorded 179 cases of Mucormycosis, or Black Fungus disease, among Covid-19 and post-Covid-19 patients, data collected by The New Indian Express has revealed. Of the 179, this dreaded condition has caused 54 of Covid and post-Covid patients to suffer vision loss, while there have been 14 deaths. Mucormycosis is an opportunistic fungal infection occurring in Covid-19 patients whose immunity levels are heavily compromised due to the viral disease.
Taking advantage of this, the Mucorlean fungus - which is commonly the early coloniser resulting in black fungal growth in decaying organic matter - attacks the sinus before making its way below the eye socket and the internal lining of the skull. Dr Gaurav Medikeri, programme director of Endoscopic Skull Base Surgery, HCG Cancer Hospital, reported 60 patients, four of whom with problems of the eye, but there were no deaths. At Apollo Hospitals, 25 cases have been reported, including one patient with total vision loss and three with partial vision loss.
Dr Satish Nair, ENT, Apollo Hospitals, said, initially the symptoms start with blocked nose, loss of sensation in the teeth, cheek and watery nose. Then it spreads to the eyes, and causes swelling, redness, double vision and even loss of vision.
“In the initial stages, with treatment, the patient does well. But once there is vision loss, we do not get good results. And when there is involvement of the brain, which is the third stage, the prognosis is poor, leading to death.
Here, symptoms include sinus, loss of sensorium, fits, high fever, difficulty in breathing, depending on which part of the brain is affected, weakness, stroke, hemorrhage, etc,” Dr Nair explained. At Minto Eye Hospital, Director Dr Sujatha Rathod said 32 cases have been reported, including 20 who came to their OPD. Fifteen of them were referred to Bowring Hospital, and five admitted in the Covid-19 ward. Totally, 11 patients in the Covid-19 ward had black fungus and all of them suffered vision loss in one or both eyes. Four died while two others were discharged.
Doc rues shortage of black fungus antidote
Dr Honey Ashok, head of ENT, Head and Neck Surgery at Sakra World Hospital said they have seen 11 patients, three of whom had vision loss and one death. “Treatment of black fungus mainly depends on anti-fungal injection called Amphotericin B and also surgical removal of the dead tissues, bone and fungal debris. We have an acute shortage of this life-saving medication,” he said. Dr Girish Anand, Consultant, ENT Surgery, Aster CMI Hospital, said they have come across seven black fungus cases, three of whom suffered vision loss, but there were no deaths.
Narayana Nethralaya saw 24 cases, with 20 of them having vision loss in one eye. Narayana Health City reported 18 patients since April, 5 of whom had vision loss and six deaths. Dr Ravi Kumar, Consultant, Internal Medicine, Manipal Hospitals, reported two cases who recovered with anti-fungal medication, without vision loss or death.There were no cases reported in four other government hospitals - KC General Hospital, CV Raman Hospital, Jayanagar General Hospital and Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Disease.