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Delhi doctors believe covid-19 can trigger rare and fatal fungal infection

Published on:15 December 2020, 17:40pm IST
Doctors at Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital have found that covid-19 is triggering a rare fungal infection in recovering patients that can be quite fatal.
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There’s no two ways about it: It’s better safe than sorry when it comes to covid-19. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

A lot has been said and done about the repercussions of having covid-19. Just recently, in fact, a study found that this viral infection can cause kidney and heart damage. Add to that the things SARS-CoV-2 (the virus behind covid-19) already doles out to your lungs and skin—and you’ve got the living embodiment of the phrase “better safe than sorry!”.

Unfortunately though, this is not where the harmful consequences of covid-19 stop. Because doctors at Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital believe this pandemic-causing infection can also trigger a deadly fungal infection.

The link between covid-19 and this rare fungal infection

Doctors at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH) have found multiple cases in recovering coronavirus patients, who were diagnosed with a deadly fungal infection “triggered by covid-19”, due to which nearly half of them lost their eyesight.

covid-19 complications
Covid-19 can spell doom for your organs. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

In the last 15 days, ENT surgeons at the hospital have seen 13 cases of “covid-19-triggered mucormycosis”. This alarming affliction, although rare, is not new. What is new is COVID-19 triggering mucormycosis, they said.

What is mucormycosis? 

Black fungus or mucormycosis has been a cause of disease and death of patients in transplants and ICU, and immunodeficient individuals since long. However, it is the rapid increase in the numbers seen in unsuspected recovering covid-19 patients that is causing the grave concern, the SGRH said in a statement.

“In the last 15 days, ENT surgeons have seen 13 cases of covid-19-triggered mucormycosis in over 50% patients, with loss of eyesight, and removal of nose and jaw bone needed,” it said.

Mortality is currently being seen in the range of 50% (five patients), with certain deaths when there is involvement of the brain, the hospital authorities said.

Doctors had to do these resections in about 10 patients over the last fortnight, with “about 50% losing their eyesight permanently”. Five of these patients required critical care support due to associated complications. There also have been five mortalities so far in this subgroup, the statement said.

According to Manish Munjal, senior ENT surgeon, at the hospital, “The frequency with which we are witnessing the occurrence of covid-19-triggered mucormycosis with high morbidity and mortality has never been seen before and is shocking and alarming.”

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Varun Rai, consultant ENT surgeon at SGRH said, “Early clinical suspicion on symptoms such as nose obstruction, swelling in the eye or cheeks, and black dry crusts in the nose should immediately prompt the conduct of a biopsy in the OPD and start of the anti-fungal therapy as early as possible”.

Delhi recorded 1,376 fresh covid-19 cases on Monday, the lowest in over three-and-a-half months, even as the death toll mounted to 10,074 with 60 new fatalities. The positivity rate dropped to 2.15% from 2.74% on Sunday, authorities said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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