Odishatv Bureau

Gandhinagar: Suspected to be a fungal infection triggered by Covid, the incidence of mucormycosis in Gujarat in the past two months has been above average. The Ahmedabad Civil hospital has seen 25 such cases, while the Rajkot Civil hospital has seen 10 cases since the monsoons. Although there is no official confirmation about this infection being linked to the global pandemic, the Gujarat Health Department is keeping a close watch on its spread and have also consulted the Ministry of Health regarding it.

"Till Friday, we have had a total of 47 cases of mucormycosis in this year. Normally, the incidence is 8 to 10 cases a year. It cannot directly be linked with Coronavirus, but since steroids are the best treatment against Corona at the moment, till no known medicine is available, these steroids could have suppressed the immune system of the patients, which can cause this fungal disease," says Dr JP Modi, Superintendent, Ahmedabad Civil hospital.

"Out of the 47 patients, we have had around 25 during the past one and half months. The primary reason for it might be the humid atmosphere after the monsoons and thereafter the cold weather, because of which these cases have sprung up," Dr. Devang Gupta, ENT surgeon, Ahmedabad Civil hospital told IANS. "But definitely these numbers are not normal, as we get around 7 to 8 cases of mucormycosis every year, or 10 at most. The number of cases is also higher because patients from all across the state and even from adjoining states are referred to the Ahmedabad Civil hospital," added Gupta.

"We have had around 10 patients of mucormycosis in the last two months, of which two have succumbed, four have been discharged and four are admitted as indoor patients. The two victims arrived here in a very advanced condition of the fungal disease. If this fungal disease is not detected and treated at an early stage, it can prove fatal as it erodes the skeletal structure of the human body," said Dr Sejal Mistry, ENT surgeon, Rajkot Civil Hospital.

"We have had a total of four mucormycosis cases in the last three months, of which two were of severe conditions and were referred to the Ahmedabad Civil hospital, while the other two treated in our hospital for mucormycosis as well as for Covid. The two referred patients, we don't know whether they were Covid positive or negative. No official data regarding the rare fungal disease is known but in the last seven years there is a rise in number of cases by 100%," Dr. Shital Mistri, nodal Officer for Corona, Gujarat Medical Education and Research Society (GMERS) hospital, Gotri (Vadodara) told IANS.

"I hundred per cent believe that the fungal disease is linked with Corona, because the respiratory immunity of people staying in the ICU is going down. There are five kinds of mucormycosis: Rhino orbito cerebral, Pulmonary, Gastro intestinal, Cutaneous and Disseminated. The fungus has more chances of affecting diabetic persons, whose sugar levels are very high. This fungus comes from the soil, excavation sites, construction sites where water seepage occurs and refrigerators that are not cleaned regularly. So people should avoid stale food and clean their fridge regularly. A mask is the best protection against such fungus, which can also spread through wind. The fungus is extremely dangerous having 50% chances of proving fatal if the patient isn't treated within 48 hours of getting infected. The treatment is also exorbitant: approximately around Rs 5 lakh to Rs 6 lakh since medicines are very costly," Dr Mistry added.

"We have not had a single Corona patient who was detected with mucormycosis during the last four months. We have had three patients of mucormycosis in our hospital, but all of them were Covid negative. We have not seen any kind of spike in mucormycosis cases and I see it as a normal routine occurrence. This disease is related to to immunity of the body. Out of the three patients, one is now admitted in the hospital, the other has been discharged after treatment and one has been referred to the Ahmedabad Civil hospital," Dr Ranjan Iyer, the SSG hospital Vadodara, Superintendent told the IANS.

"We have not had a single patient of mucormycosis in our hospital during this entire year, whether it be Corona positive or negative," Dr Shailesh Patel, the Surat Civil hospital, superintendent told the IANS.

"We have had only one male patient 10 days back, who suffered from mucormycosis and succumbed but that patient was covid negative and he had savere condition of the disease. The reason why more cases of mucormycosis are seen is that many of the covid patients are having high morbidity and have been on immuno suppressants for a long time. But if you consider the total number of mucormycosis patients to the total positive patients it will be less than 1%," Dr. SS Chatterjee, the nodal officer for Corona, GG hospital, Jamnagar told IANS.

"We are watching it and we are discussing it with experts. We have also done some publications in this area and we are trying to understand this disease. We are also in touch with New Delhi to see what are the guidelines that the central government has issued," said Dr. Jayanti Ravi, principal secretary, Health and family welfare department, Gujarat.

(With IANS Inputs)