"Persistent Headache, Swelling In Covid Survivors Signs Of Black Fungus": AIIMS Chief

Black Fungus or Mucormycosis isn't contagious but is being widely reported in India due to a large diabetic population and unregulated steroid use.

AIIMS chief Dr Randeep Guleria says all age groups and even non-covid patients can contract Black Fungus.

New Delhi:

If you are recovering from COVID-19 and can't get rid of that persistent headache or that swelling on one side of the face, immediately speak to a doctor and get tested for Black Fungus. Do the same if you find discolouration in the mouth and decreased sensation in any part of the face, according to the expert opinion of Dr Randeep Guleria, chief of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi.

Listing out more more such symptoms, Dr Guleria said, "If your nose is getting blocked and there is thrusting...those are early signs that you should start worrying. If there is loosening of a tooth, then, too, you should immediately consult your doctor."

There were several ways of determining Black Fungus infection or Mucormycosis.

An X-ray or a CT scan of the sinuses is done to see if there is infection. A second option, he said, was to do a biopsy through a nasal endoscopy.

"There is also a blood test that can be done... a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based test," he told NDTV in an exclusive interview.      

Dr Guleria said more cases of Black Fungus were being reported in India, despite it not being contagious, because of a large diabetic population and the unrestricted use and sale of steroids. Mucormycosis cases came up in the first wave, too, he said, although the number is greater during the second wave due to the excessive use of steroids.

All age groups and even non-Covid patients can contract Mucormycosis, he said. However, those above 40, who are also diabetic, are more prone. Children are at lesser risk only because a majority of children only have mild Covid infection that does not require the use of steroids.

The central government on Friday said it was working to alleviate a shortage of a medicine used to treat the rare fungal disease hitting COVID-19 patients as country's its healthcare system reels under a massive wave of coronavirus infections.

Cases of Black Fungus that also causes blurred or double vision, chest pain and breathing difficulties, have surged in India, mostly among COVID-19 patients, with at least 7,250 such cases have been found across the country as of May 19, according to reports.

The health ministry said it was looking for more companies to produce the anti-fungal drug amphotericin B used to treat it and also increase imports of the medication. That would lead to a nearly 250 per cent increase in supply to around 5.7 lakh vials in June, the ministry said on Friday.

Some states like Maharashtra, which has reported 1,500 cases of mucormycosis so far with 850 patients undergoing treatment, said they were running low on amphotericin B as Black Fungus cases spiked and had asked central authorities to provide more.