The Union Health Ministry has urged states and union territories to make black fungus, also known as mucormycosis, a notifiable disease under the Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897, citing the infection's long-term morbidity and mortality among COVID-19 patients. The ministry and the Indian Council for Medical Research have released recommendations for screening, diagnosis, and treatment of mucormycosis that must be followed by both government and private health facilities.
"Make it mandatory for all these facilities to report all suspected and confirmed cases to health department through district-level chief medical officer and subsequently to Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) surveillance system," the letter issued by the health ministry stated.
"This fungal infection is leading to prolonged morbidity and mortality amongst COVID 19 patients," Joint Secretary in the health ministry Lav Agarwal said in the letter.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recently issued recommendations for screening, diagnosing, and treating this infection, prompting this action. According to the ICMR, mucormycosis is a fungal infection that mostly affects individuals who are taking treatment for other health issues that interfere with their ability to combat environmental pathogens.
To eliminate this infection, it is important to quickly diagnose the patient as it can be aggressive and life-threatening. The fungal infection is caused by a group of molds called mucormycetes, which live throughout the environment in soil, air, or food. They enter the body through the nose, mouth, or eyes and can affect the brain, if not treated on time. Health experts have claimed that 'misuse of steroids' or consuming steroids during covid treatment is the major cause of black fungus or mucormycosis.
Symptoms of Black Fungus involve Pain and redness around the eyes and/or nose, Fever, Headache, Coughing, Shortness of breath, blood in vomit, Altered mental status. People with Uncontrolled diabetes, Immunosuppression by steroids, Prolonged ICU stay, Comorbidities post-transplant/malignancy, Kidney disease, Cancer, or Heart disease are at utmost risk.