What is Mucormycosis & how it can be treated?

In an extremely worrying trend seen recently, there has been a sudden spurt in cases of Mucormycosis in patients recovering from or suffering from Covid-19 disease.

What is Mucormycosis?

Mucormycosis, commonly known as Black Fungus, is an infection that mainly occurs in patients with reduced immunity either due to diseases like Diabetes, Cancer, organ transplants, or due to medicines like steroids and other immunosuppressive drugs.

Who is at risk?

In the current situation, any active or recovered Covid-19 patient is at risk if he additionally,

  • Has uncontrolled Diabetes
  • Received medicine like steroids, tocilizumab, or other immuno- suppressive and high flow oxygen
  • Has had a prolonged ICU stay
  • Has a history of organ transplant and/or cancer

What are the warning signs of mucormycosis?

  • Nasal blockade/ congestion/ sinusitis
  • Foul smelling discharge/ bleeding from nose
  • Swelling of eyelid/ eye and inability to open the eye
  • Sudden loss of vision
  • Swelling, numbness, and pain of one or both sides of the face
  • Progressively worsening headaches
  • The appearance of black patches in the nose or mouth

How is it treated?

This is a very serious and life-threatening infection. Treatment generally requires a coordinated team approach between infectious disease specialists, ENT surgeons, Oculoplastic surgeons,  and Neurologists.

Treatment is started with anti-fungal drugs given as IV infusion and/or orally which may have to be continued for 3-4 weeks.

Infected tissues in nose sinuses and around the eye are surgically removed repeatedly.

Rarely the eye and surrounding tissues are completely removed to prevent the spread of the infection to the brain as it can have serious implications like stroke or even death.

Monitoring the disease activity may require serial endoscopic evaluation of the sinuses as well as repeated CT or MRI scans.

It is important to remember that Mucormycosis is a serious progressive and aggressive disease that can even result in the death of the patient if treatment is not started in time.

If any of the warning signs mentioned above are noticed, its important to seek medical advice at the earliest. REMEMBER EARLY DIAGNOSIS IS THE KEY.

BY- Dr. Hrushikesh Tadwalkar, Oculoplasty surgeon, Wavikar Eye Institute

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