Even as Haryana and Punjab are grappling with the virulent second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, a fungal infection, commonly named as Black Fungus has emerged as a new challenge. Patients recovering from COVID-19 have been reportedly found to be afflicted with black fungus, or Mucormycosis.
On Monday, May 17, in an emergency meeting, CM Manohar Lal Khattar confirmed that Haryana has recorded over 100 black fungus cases. Nearly 27 patients are being treated for the fungal infection at PGI, Rohtak. As the cases continue to rise, the hospitals have reported about the shortage anti-fungal drug to treat the infection. A committee has been formed by the state Health Department to allocate medicines to the hospitals.
The government has also declared it as a notified disease
Nearly 70 cases of the fungal infection have been reported from Gurugram so far, according to Dr Virender Yadav, Chief Medical Officer, Gurugram.
Speaking on the shortage of medicine, Yadav said, “Yes, we are seeing shortage of anti-fungal drug named Amphotericin B. A state committee has been formed which is responsible for filling up the shortages,” Yadav added.
Amid the shortage of the drug, a mechanism is followed under which the committee – comprising four doctors – examine each case before issuing the injection. The hospitals have to share patients’ details and test reports to establish the requirement of the drug.
In government hospitals, the drug is available for free of cost to the patients. However, the private hospitals have to submit the amount to the health committee.
In Sirsa district of Haryana, 10 cases of black fungus have been recorded while two deaths were confirmed by health officials on May 17 due to the disease.
Also read: COVID-19: Haryana Govt Hiding State Death Toll, Allege Crematoria Flooded With Bodies
Meanwhile, CM Manohar Lal Khattar has designated four hospitals to treat the patients infected with fungus in the state. “Some of these patients are being treated at home and some in hospitals. We have also identified four medical colleges that have qualified physicians and will also have the facility to conduct surgeries when required for such patients. The hospitals will have expert doctors; if surgery is needed, that will be done and if the infection can be treated through medicine that will be done,” Khattar said during a press conference.
The medical colleges are identified as SGT Medical College in Gurgaon, Maharaja Agrasen Medical College in Agroha, PGIMS in Rohtak, and the Kalpana Chawla Medical College in Karnal.
While in Punjab, only two cases of black fungus have been reported so far, but the government is anticipating more cases in the coming days. A day ago, CM Captain Amarinder Singh directed the Health Department to ensure that medicines to treat the fungal disease is available in the state.
Speaking with NewsClick, COVID-19 Nodal Officer, Dr Rajesh Bhaskar said, “We have just recorded two cases of black fungus. We are seeing this fungus in patients who are recovering from COVID-19.”
Bhaskar attributed the disease to the high usage of steroids used to treat COVID-19. “Earlier too, patients who were put on ventilators and had consumed steroids were infected with the fungus. But now, it is rising among COVID-19 patients because of the overuse of steroids that suppresses the immunity of patients and elevates blood sugar.”
Black fungus reportedly attacks the sinuses and spreads throughout, affecting the facial bones and eyes to reach the brain.
(With inputs by Rahul Chauhan from Haryana)