At a time when the world believed that the COVID-19 pandemic couldn’t get any worse, doctors in New Delhi and Ahmedabad have reported a rare and serious fungal infection affecting COVID-19 patients and also those who recently passed suffered from a pandemic, falls victim recovering.
“Mucormycosis” is a fatal fungal infection “caused by COVID-19” that has caused nearly half of recovering Covid patients to lose their sight.
In the past 15 days, ENT surgeons at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH) in New Delhi have seen 13 cases of “COVID-19-related mucormycosis”.
In Ahmedabad two patients have already died while two surviving patients have lost their sight.
Four male patients were between 34 and 47 years old. The fifth patient was a 67-year-old man who was admitted to a hospital in Ahmedabad late Friday evening. He was in critical condition. All patients had enlarged eyeballs that bulged out of the eye sockets.
This alarming condition is rare, but not new. COVID-19, which causes mucormycosis, is new.
Black fungus, or mucormycosis, has long been a cause of illness and death in transplant patients, as well as ICU and immunodeficient individuals. However, it is the rapid rise in the numbers of undreamt-of COVID-19 patients that is creating the serious concern, the SGRH said in a statement.
“In the past 15 days, ENT surgeons have observed 13 cases of COVID-19-related mucormycosis in over 50 percent of patients, in which vision was lost and the nose and jawbones had to be removed,” it said.
Mortality is currently in the range of 50 percent (five patients), with certain deaths involving the brain, according to hospital authorities.
Doctors had to perform these resections on about 10 patients in the past 14 days, with “about 50 percent permanently losing their sight”. Five of these patients required intensive care assistance because of the complications involved. There have also been five deaths so far in this subgroup, the statement said.
According to Manish Munjal, the hospital’s chief ENT surgeon, “the frequency with which we observe high morbidity and mortality rates of COVID-19-related mucormycosis has never been seen before and is shocking and alarming.”
Varun Rai, consultant ENT surgeon at SGRH, said, “An early clinical suspicion of symptoms such as nasal congestion, swelling of the eye or cheeks, and black dry crusts on the nose should prompt a biopsy in the OPD and the start of antifungal drugs immediately as early as possible “.
Delhi recorded 1,376 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, the lowest in more than three and a half months, although the death toll rose to 10,074 with 60 new deaths.
The positivity rate fell from 2.74 percent on Sunday to 2.15 percent, the authorities said.
So far, according to Monday’s bulletin, 5,83,509 patients have recovered, been discharged or have migrated.
(With contributions from agencies)