Misuse Of Steroids A Major Cause Of Black Fungus, Says AIIMS Chief

AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria said secondary infections -- fungal and bacterial -- are causing more mortality amid an increase in COVID-19 cases.

The AIIMS Director said at a health briefing many states have reported over 500 cases of mucormycosis.

New Delhi:

All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Director Randeep Guleria on Saturday said misuse of steroids is a major cause behind mucormycosis, commonly known as black fungus.

Mr Guleria also urged the hospitals to follow protocols of infection control practices as secondary infections -- fungal and bacterial -- can be seen as the COVID-19 cases are increasing and are causing more mortality.

The AIIMS director, while addressing a health briefing, said, "As COVID-19 cases are increasing, it's of paramount importance that we follow protocols of infection control practices at hospitals. It has been seen that secondary infections -- fungal and bacterial -- are causing more mortality."

He said, "Mucormycosis spores are found in soil, air and even in food. But they are of low virulence and usually do not cause infection. There were very few cases of this infection before COVID. Now, a large number of cases are being reported due to COVID."

At AIIMS, 23 patients are being treated for this fungal infection. Out of them, 20 are still COVID-19 positive and the rest are negative for COVID. Many states have reported more than 500 cases of mucormycosis, said Mr. Guleria.

He further said, "Mucormycosis can affect the face, infecting nose, the orbit of the eye, or brain, which can cause even vision loss. It can also spread to the lung."

"Misuse of steroids is a major cause behind this infection. Chances of fungal infection increase in the patients who are diabetic, COVID positive and those who are taking steroids. To prevent it, we should stop the misuse of steroids," Mr. Guleria added.

Earlier in the day, the Haryana government declared mucormycosis a notified disease and the Odisha government constituted a seven-member state-level committee to monitor such cases in the state.

On May 12, two people had lost their lives due to the black fungus infection in Madhya Pradesh's Indore.