Recently a Nalasopara resident, Sanjay Pandey, has lost his vision in the left eye to the fungal infection, mucormycosis also called black fungus, that has been targeting an increasing number of COVID-19 patients. Although Pandey spent around Rs 18 lakh on treatment, delayed diagnoses and treatment led to vision loss. They are now struggling to procure the costly medicines, without which he may suffer a brain haemorrhage.
Pandey’s troubles began 20 days ago with a headache, fever and redness in the eye. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was diagnosed with typhoid and treated for five days. After being discharged, his symptoms persisted, so his family took him to another hospital where he tested positive for COVID-19.
Pandey was then treated for nine days at Vinayaka Hospital in Nalasopara. The swelling near his eye increased and his eyelid started closing. We kept asking the doctors about it but did not get a suitable reply. The family was told that it is because of COVID-19. Later, he lost vision in the left eye. While in most cases mucormycosis has been developing during or after COVID-19 treatment, in Pandey’s case, both diseases came together.
Besides, symptoms depend on where the fungus was growing in the body. If the growth is on the sinus and brain region, symptoms can include one-sided facial swelling, headache, nasal or sinus congestion, fever, and black lesions on the nasal bridge or upper inside of the mouth that can quickly become more severe. It may also lead to eye pain and ultimately result in loss of vision if not treated immediately. If in the lung, symptoms may include fever, cough, chest pain and shortness of breath.
The distress and chaos related to COVID don’t seem to end with many new symptoms related to the virus making headlines on a day-to-day basis. Well, right now the most searched COVID-related symptom is the “black fungus”. Mucormycosis has been reported in many COVID-19 survivors, mainly from Delhi, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
The number of such cases has increased as Gujarat sees an exponential rise in coronavirus infections. At least eight persons were reported to have lost their eyesight in Surat due to mucormycosis (MM) after recovering from COVID-19. They had to be admitted to hospitals for the sudden loss of vision. In the past 15 days, Surat has reported at least 40 cases of mucormycosis or black fungus including eight who have lost their eyesight. Similarly, Maharashtra has 2000 and above cases.
The infection, triggered by COVID-19, is treatable but if left untreated or if the treatment is delayed, the condition can lead to the loss of vision, and in some cases increase mortality. Sadly, there is a shortage of injections to treat black fungus.
The black fungus affects the sinuses or the lungs after inhaling fungal spores from the air. It can also occur on the skin after a cut, burn, or another type of skin injury. It is seen in the form of blackish moulds. People get mucormycosis by coming in contact with the fungal spores in the environment. The fungus causes the disease that has now been linked to the airborne COVID-19 infection.
The infection first came to light during the first ‘wave’ of the pandemic. It was previously known as zygomycosis. The cases of Mucormycosis, affecting some COVID-19 survivors are on the rise in Maharashtra and Gujarat which has left many patient’s blinds.
Meanwhile, considering the growing number of patients with mucormycosis, Surat’s civil hospital has set up a separate facility for their treatment. Whereas the Maharashtra government is using medical colleges as centres of treatment. As per the news reports, as the infection is not categorised as a communicable disease, the state health department does not maintain a public record of the same, unless individually notified by hospitals.