Mumbai: BMC to set up special task force to handle mucormycosis cases

Amid rising cases of ‘mucormycosis’ in the city, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has now decided to set up a special task force and internal core committee that will handle all cases related to rare fungal infections and decide the line of treatment.

This comes after more than 100 recovered Covid patients in the city have developed post-Covid complications which need immediate attention. Civic officials said most of the patients are from outside Mumbai. However, they will be floating tender to procure medicines. They have directed the hospital authorities to procure medicines locally to treat the patients with the fungal infections.

According to the data, 151 recovered Covid patients developed mucormycosis of which 40 at Sir JJ hospital, followed by 38 are being treated at BY Nair Hospital, 34 at KEM Hospital, 32 at Sion Hospital and seven at Cooper Hospital. However six patients have succumbed to mucormycosis, also called ‘black fungus’, while being treated at Sion Hospital.

Suresh Kakani, Additional Municipal Commissioner, said they have set up an expert panel of the doctors to decide the line of treatment for the disease and all the hospitals have been informed about the precautionary measures to avoid the spread of disease. The team will comprise ENT specialist, ophthalmologist, microbiologist and anaesthetist.

They have asked to follow all recovered patients personally. “There has been an increase in fungal infections since the second wave started and there are 111 patients with mucormycosis at civic-run hospitals. However the patients we are getting are from outside the city. Moreover we have directed all the ward officers to closely monitor each COVID patient who have recovered,” he said.

The BMC's Central Purchase Authority has initiated purchase of antifungal drug Amphotericin B that are used for treatment of mucormycosis and the hospitals are authorised to purchase it locally.

Dr Shrinivas Chavan, head of the ENT Department at JJ hospital said there are three types of mucormycosis to which they are dealing with and doctors must immediately check for mucormycosis if any of the symptoms like blockage of nose, foul smell or discharge from the nose, decreased sensation over the face, orbital pain, double vision, pain in the eye, headache, nausea are noticed.

“Covid-19 patients are more susceptible because they are administered steroids which suppress the immune system. Drugs like tocilizumab and remdesivir change our immunity. Also, steroids also increase blood sugar, which creates the perfect environment for the fungus to grow,” he said. Moreover the hospital is seeing at least five to seven cases from Maharashtra daily.

Dr Maharudra Kumbhar, officer on special duty at SHH, said there is a need to spread awareness on early intervention, good blood sugar control. Some warning signs are blackish nasal discharge, facial pain, headaches and pain around the eyes. “We have made a modular operation theatre with laminar flow which creates a negative pressure environment, making safe surgery of Covid-19 patients possible,” he said.

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