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Published On: Tue, Dec 15th, 2020

COVID triggered fungal infection causing eyesight loss

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NEW DELHI : The government on Tuesday said the coronavirus -triggered deadly fungus causing eyesight loss in patients was a “mild disease” but “could take a serious turn”.
The response came as ENT surgeons at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi came across over 12 cases of the Mucormycosis fungus within 15 days, which causes loss of eyesight, removal of the nose and jaw bone, and 50 percent mortality, where there is brain involvement.
“This is a devastating disease. We need to be cautious. This could be a mild disease but can take a serious turn,” Dr. VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, said today.
“This is a devastating disease, and the cure is not easy. We need to be cautious. This could be a mild disease but can also take a serious turn. This was there in the absence of Covid-19 as well,” Dr V.K.
Paul, Member, Health, NITI Aayog said at a press conference.

ENT surgeons at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital witnessed 13 cases of Covid-19-triggered mucormycosis or black fungus due to which nearly half of the patients lost their eyesight, hospital authorities claimed on Monday.
Mucormycosis has been the cause of disease and death of patients in transplants, and ICU and immuno-deficient 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 hospital said in a statement.
Mortality is currently being seen in the range of 50 per cent (five patients), with certain deaths when there is involvement of brain, the authorities said.
One such case is of a 32-year-old Covid-recovered patient who was admitted to the emergency ward of SGRH a few days ago in a partially disoriented state.
“An MRI revealed that the infection had already destroyed a significant part of his left side sinuses, eye, upper jaw bone and muscles, and even had made passage into the brain. He had to be subsequently put on the life-saving antifungal medication and vital critical care support for more than 2 weeks. He will soon be discharged in a survivable, but a disfigured state,” Dr Manish Munjal, senior ENT surgeon, SGRH had said.

“The frequency with which we are witnessing the occurrence of Covid triggered mucormycosis with high morbidity & mortality has never been seen before and is shocking and alarming,” said Dr Prakash Shastri, Vice Chairman of Critical Care Department, SGRH.

According to a report published by news agency ANI, the ENT and Eye team at Sir Ganga Ram have had to do resections procedure in about 10 patients over the last fortnight, with about 50 percent losing their eyesight permanently.
Five of these patients required critical care support, due to other associated complications. It said, quoting the Ganga Ram Hospital, that there have been five mortalities in this subgroup.
Covid-16Experts believe that COVID-19 patients were more susceptible to this virus and said that it was in the air. According to experts, it is a ubiquitous fungus and is present in the plant, animal and air but is attacking COVID recovered patients because they have been given steroids and have co-morbidity.
“This is a virus and comes in people with a weak immune system. This fungus comes into the body and destroys the part where it is coming. The post-COVID patients are given a large dose of steroids to decrease the Cytokine storm it allows opportunistic fungal infections like deadly Mucormycosis to enter the body,” Dr. Manish Munjal, Senior ENT Surgeon at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital told ANI.

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