By notifying the disease, all medical institutions and health facilities will have to follow guidelines for screening, diagnosis, and management of mucormycosis.

Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, addressing a press conferencePTI
Coronavirus Coronavirus Thursday, May 20, 2021 - 17:31

The Union Health Ministry on May 19, Wednesday urged all states and Union Territories to make mucormycosis, commonly known as black fungus a notifiable disease. The disease will be notified under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1987.

Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), in a letter addressed to health secretaries of all states and Union Territories said that cases of mucormycosis have been reported in COVID-19 patients, especially those who are undergoing steroid therapy and have diabetes, “This fungal infection is leading to prolonged morbidity and mortality amongst COVID-19 patients,” he said in the letter.

The joint secretary said the treatment of this fungal infection requires a multidisciplinary approach consisting of several experts. Further adding that the treatment will require eye surgeons, ENT specialists, general surgeons, neurosurgeons and dental maxillofacial surgeons among others and the use of Amphotericin B, an antifungal medicine.

To stem the fungal infection, the Union Health Ministry requested states to make mucormycosis a notifiable disease under the Epidemic Disease Act 1897. Notifying the disease would mean all government and private health facilities, medical colleges will follow guidelines for screening, diagnosis, and management of mucormycosis.

As per the guidelines issued by MoHFW and ICMR, it becomes mandatory for all these facilities to report all suspected and confirmed cases to the health department through district-level chief medical officers and subsequently to the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP).

With reports of mucormycosis infections in Telangana, the fungal infection was declared a notifiable disease in the state by the Director of Public Health on Wednesday. And on Thursday, Tamil Nadu said it will soon notify mucormycosis as a notifiable disease and that a 10-member committee to review the infection has been constituted according to Tamil Nadu Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan.

Mucormycosis, commonly known as black fungus, is an infection caused by mucormycetes molds. These organisms are usually present in nature. But if a patient gets exposed to the fungus, it infects the central nervous system, eyes, sinuses, lungs etc. However, everyone exposed to the fungus does not contract it.