Three children infected with Black Fungus had to go through surgery to remove an eye each in Mumbai. Mucormycosis or Black Fungus cases in children are a worrying sign, say doctors. The infection targets COVID-19 patients with comorbidities like diabetes and is dangerous, even after one recovers from Covid.
The three children, 4, 6 and 14 years old, were operated upon at two hospitals in Mumbai. The first two children are not diabetic, but the 14-year-old child is. A fourth child, a 16-year-old, became diabetic after recovering from Covid and a part of her stomach was found infected with Black Fungus, doctors have said.
"We saw two girls infected with Black Fungus in the second wave (of Covid). Both were diabetic. After she came to us (the 14 years old), one of her eyes turned black within 48 hours. The fungus was spreading to the nose too. Luckily, it did not reach the brain. We treated her for six weeks; unfortunately, she lost her eye," said Dr Jesal Sheth, Senior Consultant Paediatrician at Fortis Hospital.
"The 16-year-old child was healthy a month ago. She had recovered from Covid. She was not diabetic. But she came to us with diabetes suddenly. Her intestines started bleeding. We did an angiography and found that Black Fungus had infected blood vessels near her stomach," Dr Sheth said.
The younger children, who were not diabetic, were admitted to Mumbai's KBH Bachooali Ophthalmic and ENT Hospital. Both had Covid.
"Black Fungus was spreading in their eyes and if we had not removed the eyes, their life would have been in danger. They were already blind in one eye and it was hurting them badly. One child came to us in December last year. The second case came during the second wave," said Dr Prithesh Shetty, Oculoplasty, Ocular Oncology and Ocular Prosthetic at the hospital.
Black Fungus infection needs to be caught early as it is aggressive and dead tissue has to be scraped away. Surgeons have had to remove patients' nose, eyes or even their jaw to stop it getting to the brain.
With coronavirus and other conditions, a dangerous phenomenon called a cytokine storm can occur where the immune system goes into overdrive, damaging organs, so doctors have been prescribing steroids to reduce immune response. But this weakens the body's defences and increases sugar levels, which funguses thrive off.