The centre after seeing a spike in the cases of mucormycosis or black fungus around the country, is collaborating with state governments to find a solution.
People that have a weakened immune system are more vulnerable to the fungus. The exact number of people affected with mucormycosis or black fungus in India is unclear, as reports of the fungal infection among Covid-19 patients and those on steroids began to surface earlier this month.
On Saturday, VK Paul, a member of the government think tank Niti Aayog, told reporters that the states are reporting very large numbers – some 400-500, and a few even 1,000. "The exact burden is not known. The states are reporting very high numbers – some 400-500, a few even 1,000," he said. "Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has started collating the data. We have asked states to keep an eye so we can stop this immediately," he added.
Mucormycosis cases have been linked to diabetes and the abuse of steroids in the treatment of Covid-19, according to AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria. Out of the 23 cases of mucormycosis at AIIMS Delhi, 20 are that of COVID-19 positive patients. [Read More: Uncontrolled Diabetes Is Major Cause of Black Fungus in Covid-19 Patients: Experts]
"People who have diabetes have a higher chance of getting this fungal infection. Another big factor is misuse of steroids. If a patient has mild Covid symptoms and no requirement of oxygen, then giving him steroids causes more harm than good," said the AIIMS chief. "If a patient with diabetes is given steroids, then she/he has a higher chance of developing mucormycosis. So it is essential to keep sugar in control," he added.
People who have been prescribed steroids, according to Guleria, should monitor their sugar levels on a regular basis.
According to the AIIMS leader, steroid treatment is prescribed for 5-10 days in both moderate and severe Covid disease.
"If steroids are used for a prolonged time, there are higher chances of developing this fungal infection," said Guleria. "We must work aggressively to reduce these cases. If at the time of discharge a patient has any symptoms then the treating doctors must be very careful."