India has recorded over 45,000 cases of ‘black fungus’, a fungal infection that is spreading among patients who have been diagnosed with Covid-19, in the past two months. More than 4,200 people have died of mucormycosis, a rare disease usually, but which has spread in India among Covid-19 patients after their recovery, Deputy Minister of Health Bharati Pravin Pawar told parliament on Tuesday.
This very aggressive fungal disease, with a mortality rate of over 50%, has forced surgeons to remove the eyes, nose and jaw of some patients to prevent the infection from reaching the brain. According to the government, the state of Maharashtra (west) is the most affected with 9,348 cases.
Steroids to treat Covid-19 patients implicated
India recorded only 20 cases of mucormycosis per year before the coronavirus pandemic, this disease affecting in particular people who are immunocompromised, have too high a blood sugar level, have AIDS or have undergone organ transplants. Experts have attributed the dramatic rise in mucormycosis cases to overuse of steroids to treat Covid-19 patients.
In May, the Indian government declared a state of epidemic for mucormycosis as the number of cases began to explode. Government figures show the number of infections peaked in May and June before dropping significantly. Social networks were then inundated with desperate calls for treatments to cure this disease. The newspaper Hindustan Times reported on Monday an increase in cases among children in the state of Rajasthan (north).