"Epidemic Within Pandemic": Karnataka Changes Steps To Fight Black Fungus

Karnataka will have a new COVID-19 discharge policy and post-Covid precautions in view of the rising cases of Black Fungus infection.

Karnataka has formulated new steps to tackle Black Fungus.

Bengaluru:

Karnataka has been hit with hundreds of cases of Mucormycosis or Black Fungus. The state is trying to change its approach to tackle this new challenge in the pandemic.

After a meeting with experts, Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar said, "It has been found that administering steroids in the first week of treatment of COVID-19 is one of the main causes of Black Fungus infection. We need to avoid this and steroids should be administered only from second week."

Patients who are being discharged after Covid treatment will also be checked for the presence of Mucormycosis. The minister said, "It has been decided to formulate a new discharge policy and post-Covid precautions for patients who have recovered from COVID-19 infection."

During discharge, Covid patients will be tested for any fungus infection and will also be given an MRI scan, if necessary.

The care will continue even after discharge. All district hospitals have been instructed to have a dedicated post-Covid ward. After one week of discharge, people who have recovered from Covid should get themselves tested at these wards or they could get a tele-consultation.

"Every Covid recovered person will be contacted to check for any symptoms of fungus infection. If symptoms are found, they will be called to hospitals for further diagnosis," said Dr Sudhakar.

He said there were about 95 cases of Black Fungus which were being treated at Bangalore Medical College. 75 of these patients have either uncontrolled diabetes or were administered steroids during  their Covid treatment.

It was found in preliminary reports that the Mucormycosis infection is being reported from small hospitals, taluk hospitals and from patients under home isolation in some cases. "We will get more clarity in the final report. The committee headed by Dr Ambika will soon submit the final report," said the minister.

Dr Vishal Rao, a member of Karnataka's Covid Task Force, described Mucormycosis as an epidemic within a pandemic. He told NDTV, "In Karnataka, currently it must be about 700 cases. It looks like an epidemic within a pandemic at this juncture. We need to understand the source of this infection, have early detection and treatment. We don't need to scare people about Black Fungus. We need to create awareness. What we have seen in the patients, they have all been Covid positive. Most have been given steroids. A majority had high sugar. 30 to 40 per cent had been given oxygen and most importantly, none of them had been vaccinated."

With well over 400 confirmed cases of Black Fungus in the state, the main drug for its treatment - Amphotericin B - is in high demand. Over 80,00 vials have been allocated to the state in the last week. The government is also trying to source alternatives.

Karnataka, which reported nearly 25,000 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, has the second highest number of infections in India after Maharashtra.