HYDERABAD: Black fungus, the new scourge, is scaring the daylights out of the diabetic Covid-19 patients who are in their recovery stage. In a short span of a fortnight, at least three persons have lost their vision to black fungus in the State.
HYDERABAD: According to Sarojini Devi Eye Hospital officials, a total of 11 patients have come in with this condition and are presently being given aggressive treatment with antifungal drugs like Liposomal Amphotericin. “The problem with this disease is that it progresses very fast and can affect the eye, leading to loss of vision as well. Till now, of the 11 patients, six were referred by ENT specialists and they have early to moderate manifestation in their eyes. The other seven have come directly after their eyes were affected by the fungus. Three of them have lost vision permanently,” said Dr V Rajalingam, Superintendent Sarojini Devi Eye Hospital.
He explained that this fungus is affecting patients with low immunity post Covid-19 treatment. The use of steroids lowers the immunity further, leading to rapid spread of the fungus. Further more, the unsanitary conditions in oxygen pipelines could also be a breeding ground for the fungus, which spreads into the nasal passage during the oxygen treatment.
“People should not delay their visit to hospital. If any symptoms persist, they should immediately report to the hospital. We have sufficient beds and medicines to offer treatment for the condition and government has procured more drugs anticipating such cases,” said Dr Rajalingam V, Superintendent Sarojini Devi Eye Hospital.
22-yr-old wins battle against virus, but loses vision to black fungus
Meanwhile, in a classic case of how the healthcare system fails innocent people, a 22-year-old Covid-19 recovered patient has now lost her eyesight to the black fungus and is running pillar to post for treatment. The girl, who hails from Nizamabad, was treated at the Government General Hospital, Nizamabad, for Covid-19. However, in the last leg of her recovery, she developed the black fungus in her eye owing to her pre-existing comorbidity of being severely diabetic.
“Her eye was swelling up when the doctors at Nizamabad referred her to Gandhi Hospital, where she was diagnosed with black fungus. She was told that the treatment can only be done in private hospitals,” said Khalida Parveen of Amoomat Society, which is assisting the girl’s family.
After being sent away from Gandhi Hospital, the family has now headed to a private hospital in the city. “Due to delays in treatment, the private hospital has informed that she has lost her vision in her left eye. The doctors have asked for an ENT checkup as well to know the extent of the spread of the fungus, as it could spread to the brain and worsen the condition,” she added.
The family is now looking to raise funds upto `15 lakh for the treatment. The issue also highlights how several immuno-compromised individuals younger than 45 years who were left out of the vaccine rollout become vulnerable to Covid-19. Experts note an urgent shift in protocols is needed to prevent this shadow pandemic from growing any further.
“This condition is arising as a result of the condition called ‘failures of success.’ While steroids are a help in controlling the cytokine storms arising in Covid-19 patients, it is leaving behind other forms of damage,” said Professor BR Shamanna from the School of Medical Sciences, University of Hyderabad. He said that the government must release guidelines to all hospitals treating Covid patients on the symptoms to watch out for.
“The staff at primary to tertiary level hospitals, including those in ICUs, must be briefed about the early signs and a reporting mechanism must be developed. At the same time the diagnostic and medicine supply must be strengthened. This proactive approach can prevent deaths as in this disease it is a very likely outcome,” added Dr Shammana.