Mucormycosis, a new fungal infection in Covid-19 patients have turned out to be quite dangerous and with an increase in cases, people are finding access to the treatment and drugs hard. An IE report has highlighted that due to the shortage of Amphotericin B injections (used in treatment of mucormycosis) as well as the dearth of specialist doctors in some cases has led to patients travelling inter-city or inter-state for travel treatment. As a result, the whole process has become expensive, where treatment costs are “scaling up to lakhs.”
According to consultant physician Dr Gautam Bhansali, a Bombay hospital has treated 27 mucormycosis cases where 10 of them were of people who had come from outside the city. He added that the root cause of mucormycosis is still not clear as it could either be steroid use, diabetes or contamination. Whatever the cause is, the number of cases in India are perplexing. Similarly in KEM hospital, a special 60-bed ward has been created for treatment of mucormycosis patients and the ward is full. Assistant Medical Officer Dr Pravin Bangar, looking after patients in the ward also highlighted that many patients have come from across the city/ state.
The report cited cases of people from Kashmir and Gujarat travelling to Mumbai in search of specialised treatment as well as antifungal medication Amphotericin B. Many people in the city are also facing issues and are seen standing in long queues in front of the government centre in order to buy Amphotericin. Many people also go back empty-handed as by the time their turn comes, the medicines stock gets over.
It is to note that in order to treat mucormycosis, there usually is a requirement of a multi-speciality team which includes neurosurgeon, an ENT specialist, general surgeon, ophthalmologist, physician as well as an anaesthetist, given the infection growth is high and spreads to brain and face.
People infected with mucormycosis can experience pain and redness around the eyes or nose. They can also have a fever, headache, shortness of breath, coughing, or bloody vomits. In some cases, altered mental status can also be seen. Some warning signs are there that can indicate the presence of infection. This includes blurred or double vision with pain, loosening of teeth, toothache, blackish/bloody discharge from the nose, one-sided facial pain or swelling in cheekbones, skin lesion, and chest pains.
The infection can be bad as among 100 cases, there is a possibility of 30 to 40 patients of Covid-associated mucormycosis to die. The Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers has released a data which highlighted deaths of 8,848 people in Indian due to mucormycosis cases till May 22.