Black fungus infection, causes, who are at risk, how to prevent it: All your FAQs answered by AIIMS chief – Times Now

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The misuse of steroids is a major cause behind the spread of mucormycosis – a rare infection also known as black fungus disease –, AIIMS director Randeep Guleria said on Saturday as cases of deadly infection are rising in COVID-19 patients across the country.

Warning against the increase in the number of fungal infections, Guleria said that it is of paramount importance that hospitals follow protocols of infection control practices.

“It has been seen that secondary infections — whether fungal or bacterial — are causing more mortality,” he said.

Who are at risk of ‘black fungus’, how to prevent it

AIIMS chief said that diabetic patients who are suffering from COVID-19 and being given steroids have a high chance of being affected by mucormycosis.

“Chances of fungal infection increase in the patients who are diabetic, COVID positive and are taking steroids. To prevent it, we should stop the misuse of steroids,” he said.

“Even before COVID, this disease could be seen mostly in diabetic patients, transplant and cancer patients, but it was rare among the general public. Now a large number of cases are being reported due to COVID treatment,” he added, PTI reported.

Guleria recommended close monitoring of blood sugar levels to prevent the infection and also advised against using steroids in the early stages of coronavirus and said that if the patient has mild symptoms, steroids would do him more harm than good.

How it spreads?

Mucormycosis spores are found in soil, air and even in food, but they are of low virulence and usually don’t cause infection, according to Guleria.

The AIIMS chief further said that mucormycosis, can affect the face, infecting nose, orbit of eye, or brain, which can even cause vision loss. It can also spread to the lung.

Niti Ayog member VK Paul also urged people to control their diabetes as the fungus disease is seen to spread among such patients more widely.

Paul said that steroids are part of the treatment for COVID, but it is important to prescribe it at the right time and in the right dosage, otherwise it could lead to secondary infections like mucormycosis.

“Control your diabetes. Even when you have COVID, please ensure you don’t forget to have your medicines. Another aspect of this is to use steroids judiciously…Steroids should not be prescribed lightly… This disease has to be prevented,” he said.

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