Indian government calls on states to declare ‘black fungus’ EPIDEMIC as cases of deadly disease rise
The Indian government has told the country’s states to declare a ‘black fungus’ epidemic as cases of the potentially fatal infection continue to rise among Covid-19 patients.
In a letter on Thursday, the Union Health Ministry called on the states to designate the infection – officially referred to as mucormycosis – as an epidemic under the Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897 and to make the reporting of suspected and confirmed cases to the health department mandatory.
“You are requested to make mucormycosis a notifiable disease… wherein all government and private health facilities, medical colleges will follow guidelines for screening, diagnosis, management of mucormycosis,” the letter read. It added that the disease is leading to “prolonged morbidity and mortality amongst Covid-19 patients.”
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Symptoms of infection can include facial swelling and black lesions, and black fungus has a fatality rate of around 54%, according to the CDC in the US.
Thousands of cases of black fungus have been recorded all over India, including at least 2,000 cases and 90 deaths in the state of Maharashtra, where Mumbai is located.
The infection enters a person through the bloodstream via a cut or through the respiratory system via the nose and can then spread to the heart, the brain, and the lungs, among other vital organs. Black fungus has taken a particularly hard toll on those who have already recovered from Covid-19, proving particularly deadly to the most vulnerable.
Experts have alleged that the infection could be spreading through the use of steroids for Covid-19 patients, as well as a lack of sanitation.
To make matters worse, doctors and health officials have been warning of a shortage of the amphotericin B antifungal drug, which is required to treat infections of black fungus.
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