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47 black fungus cases detected, five die in J&K: Docs say timely action, awareness helped in controlling infection

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Srinagar:  Forty-seven cases of black fungus or Mucormycosis have been detected in Jammu and Kashmir so far. Five persons have succumbed to the deadly infection.

Doctors say timely action and massive awareness campaign have helped in controlling the spread of the disease in Jammu and Kashmir.

 

The first case of black fungus in J&K was detected on May 22. The patient, however, succumbed to the infection.  Four other people, who had recovered from COVID-19 diseases died in the same month.

In India, 46,764 cases of black fungus have been reported with Maharashtra topping the list with 9654 infections.

J&K government declared black fungus an epidemic on May 24 after its cases started emerging in the UT.  The J&K Epidemic Diseases (Mucormycosis) Regulations make it mandatory for all government and private health institutions to report suspected and confirmed cases to the health department.

Doctors claim the timely action, cooperation by people and mass awareness have helped in controlling the spread of the disease.

“Awareness about Covid, usage of masks, vaccinations, and appropriate use of antibiotics or steroids is always prudent and paying in terms of good outcome in pandemics. Sick patients who require O2 and steroids are less in number. Superadded infections like mucor, other fungal or bacterial infections are low,” said Dr. Aijaz Nabi Koul, Head of Department of Infectious Diseases SKIMS Soura.

Dr. Koul said the terminally sick COVID cases have been on a decline in Kashmir due to which no cases of black fungus have been reported to the hospitals.

“Overall cases are very few for past some days and very sick cases are on the decline as is evident from low admissions rates of covid positive patients in hospitals. The bottom line is if Covid cases are under control, death rates, as well as opportunistic infections like mucor, are also insignificant to nil,”  he added.

Pertinently, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare took immediate measures to address the issue of Mucormycosis. It included clinical management guidelines for managing COVID-19 cases advocated rational use of steroids for managing moderate to severe cases of COVID-19 under strict medical supervision.

 “Advisory for rational use of Steroids and Tocilizumab in the treatment of Covid -19 patients” was issued by the Directorate General of Health Services

Mucormycosis is listed to be a very rare infection that is caused by exposure to mucor mould which is commonly found in soil, plants, manure, and decaying fruits and vegetables. It can be life-threatening and affects the sinuses, the brain, and the lungs. Doctors believe that the fungal infection which has an overall mortality rate of 50%, may be triggered by the use of steroids, a life-saving treatment for severe and critically ill Covid-19 patients.