What is Mucormycosis? All you need to know about the fungal infection observed in some Covid-19 patients post-recovery

A rare fungal infection -- Mucormycosis -- is one of the common post-coronavirus complications which has been observed in patients in Mumbai. According to doctors, daily there are no less than 20 patients complaining of mucormycosis which also causes blindness, organ dysfunction, loss of body tissue and even death, if not treated in time. Doctors said they are seeing more cases now, as against that last year, a trend which needs thorough clinical research to be fully understood.

Dr Amol Patil, Senior Consultant, ENT & Otorhinolaryngology, Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital,said the most devastating after effect of COVID-19 and its medication is the enfeebling of the immune system. It is not uncommon for the recovered person's body playing host to lethal fungal infections such as Mucormycosis. If left untreated, the infection can be extremely lethal and spread quickly to other parts of the body. Once the critical organs such as the brain or lungs are involved, the patient can even suffer paralysis.

“We have seen about 10-15 cases of Mucormycosis since last year. Most patients were in the 30-50 year age group, had a history of COVID infection and came with a sinus infection. In patients with advanced infection, we observed eye involvement causing vision loss and spread of the infection to the brain, with life-threatening sequelae. We are seeing more cases now as compared to last year, the reason for which needs thorough clinical studies to be fully understood,” he said.

A senior doctor, RN Cooper hospital, said they have seen over 25 cases of the fungal infection in nine months. “The combination of Covid, diabetes and steroids that lower immunity are the main factors behind the rise. We have seen a jump of 50 per cent compared to that in the previous years. Around 20 per cent patient have died,” he said. Most city hospitals said they used to treat barely 2-5 cases in an entire year before Covid.

Moreover, on an average, in 2018-19, doctors would see one patient in a month and perform surgery on 12 to 15 patients a year; but, post-Covid, they began seeing 20-25 cases a year in 2020; in 2021, doctors are seeing 25 patients a day.

A case in point is a 65-year-old male with history of diabetes and high blood pressure who developed mucormycosis three weeks post the recovery period. The patient was from Varanasi and airlifted to Mumbai. He was diagnosed with a severe case of mucormycosis.

“The prognosis was critical as the infection had already spread to the eyeballs, brain and the sinuses, following which he was immediately put on a ventilator and operated on; the patient was also put on high doses of anti-fungal medicine. The patient didn’t survive and died within 30 hours during treatment,” said Dr Milind Navalakhe, Consultant ENT at Global Hospitals.

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