Around 518 people are currently being treated for black fungus or mucormycosis in Tamil Nadu. The Tamil Nadu Health Minister said that till date, 17 people succumbed to the infection and around 20 people have successfully been discharged after treatment. Tamil Nadu health minister Ma Subramanian, speaking to the media, said that Government Hospitals in Chennai are setting up separate wards to treat mucormycosis cases. In Chennai's Omandurar Government Hospital, a separate ward for black fungus with six beds was inaugurated on May 28.
"We have also set up an expert panel of doctors consisting of ENT surgeons, Ophthalmologists, maxillofacial surgeons, etc. to advise the government on black fungus cases. There are 13 doctors who are doing this. Further, a separate ward at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital for black fungus will also be set up," Ma Subramanian said.
Highlighting the increase in mucormycosis cases in Tamil Nadu, opposition leader Edappadi K Palaniswami wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 31, asking for the Union government to increase the allotment of Liposomal Amphotericin B IV, the drug used to treat black fungus, to Tamil Nadu "to enable affected people to access life-saving treatment."
Mucormycosis is a fungal infection that is increasingly being reported in COVID-19 recovered people. While the exact reason triggering the fungal infection, which can be fatal if left untreated, in COVID-19 patients is not known yet, doctors suspect that weakened immunity and high blood sugar levels are the major reasons for the wave of mucormycosis cases. It is important to remember that the fungal infection does not spread from person to person.
Doctors are urging COVID-19 patients to look out for symptoms such as sudden tooth mobility, pain in the eye, nasal discharge, pustules in the mouth, etc. Keeping blood sugar levels in check is also important for persons who have recovered from COVID-19.
"If you have tested positive, then doing a random blood sugar test along with the other recommended tests for COVID-19 is a good tip. If your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, then it is advisable to consult a doctor and get on medicines to keep the sugar levels in check," says Dr Sonal Anchlia, Professor and Head of the Department of Maxillofacial Surgery at the Government Dental College and Hospital, Ahmedabad.
Doctors are also advising patients to maintain good oral mask hygiene - by washing and wearing masks every day, or throwing away used masks and getting new ones.