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Declare mucormycosis an epidemic, Centre tells states

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With cases of mucormycosis or black fungus being reported from various states across the country, the Union government has directed all states to declare the fungal infection an epidemic and list it under the Epidemic Diseases Act. States such as Rajasthan and Telangana have already declared the rare but fatal fungal infection as epidemic.

Declaration of disease as epidemic essentially means that all conformed or suspected cases of the disease anywhere in India will have to be reported to the state government and the Union health ministry.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s joint secretary Lav Agarwal said, “All government and private health facilities and medical colleges have to follow guidelines for screening, diagnosis, management of mucormycosis.”

What is mucormycosis?

Cases of mucormycosis, a rare fungal infection, are being reported among COVID patients who were administered steroids to treat symptoms, and particularly among those who are suffering from diabetes and cancer. Medical experts have pointed to strong links between diabetes and infection.

The disease, which can lead to blackening or discolouration over the nose, blurred or double vision, chest pain, breathing difficulties and coughing blood, is strongly linked to diabetes. Diabetics and those with compromised immune systems are urged by doctors to watch for symptoms like sinus or nasal blockage on one side of the face, headache, swelling or numbness, toothache and loosening of teeth.

Who are at high risk?

The following categories of patients are at high risk:

  • Patients with uncontrolled diabetes, diabetic ketoacidosis, and diabetics on steroids or tocilizumab
  • Patients on immunosuppressants or anticancer treatment, and patients with chronic debilitating illness
  • Patients on high dose steroids and or long duration of steroids or tocilizumab
  • Severe COVID cases
  • Patients on oxygen support—nasal prongs, by mask, or on ventilator

 

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