What is Mucormycosis and why is it affecting so many Covid-19 patients?01 Jun, 2021 | 08:57
Mucormycosis is a fungal disorder. Fungi are present extensively in our environment. If mucormycete spores enters the nostrils of a healthy human being, the body’s immunity fights off the infection and does not let the disease happen. But in people with compromised immunity, these spores, transform in to hyphae, invade and cause the disease. Prior to the COVID epidemic, the mucormycosis infection was observed in patients with uncontrolled diabetes, especially in an acute condition called diabetes ketoacidosis, cancer patients,especially in those on chemotherapy, and individuals with HIV disease among others.
The current wave of mucormycosis, however, seems to be directly related to Covid-19 and is widely affecting people who have Covid or are recovering from it.
Three reasons that may have contributed to this sudden surge of mucormycosis cases are i) a large number of Covid-19 patients in a small duration of time, ii) new variants of SARS-Cov-2, and iii) concurrently uncontrolled diabetes in these Covid patients
Early data from AIIMS suggest that a significant number of patients currently being diagnosed with mucormycosis had uncontrolled diabetes. Over and above this, we have seen a significant increase in the use and misuse of steroid. Steroids though a preferred treatment for moderate to severe Covid-19 patients, have to be given at a specific time, for a pre-defined duration, and in pre-defined doses. Injudicious use of steroids, including by self-medication can do more harm than good. All these factors have led to the recent surge in the mucormycosis cases.
Dr Nikhil Tandon, Professor and Head, Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, AIIMS, New Delhi