Doctors treating COVID-19 patients at New Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital have reported that over a dozen of these recovered patients went on to develop a serious fungal infection and five of them lost their lives.
The fungus can lead to various gruesome outcomes, depending on where it might spread in the body. In some cases, the infection could necessitate the removal of the nose and jawbone and can also cause permanent loss of eyesight.
The fungus seems to exploit the immune system’s Cytokine response, which is provoked by the huge doses of steroids used for the treatment of the coronavirus.
“It allows mucormycosis to travel through the nose root to the eyes and brain and, if undetected, it can lead to the death of over 50 percent cases in a matter of days.” Dr. Manish Munjal, Ganga Ram’s senior ENT surgeon told ANI.
Dr. Atul Patel, a leading Indian infectious diseases expert said that 19 cases of mucormycosis recorded in the past three months, among recovered COVID-19 patients, is a significant spike.
“This is 4.5 times higher than the burden reported conventionally before the pandemic,” Patel said.
He added, “This is a serious issue and healthcare providers should be extremely cautious.”
The fungal infection has to be diagnosed immediately, so that clinical intervention can take place and a viable treatment can be put in place.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention symptoms include one-sided facial swelling, fever and headaches. Nasal congestion and the appearance of growing black spots inside the mouth or on the nose are other symptoms.