As India grapples with a large outbreak of coronavirus cases, a serious fungal infection is resurfacing in the country, affecting patients in remission. The doctors on the spot are worried and for good reason, several people have already lost an eye.
An infection affecting the immunocompromised
Most recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported the presence of the Indian variant in no less than 44 countries. India, this country to which all eyes are now on, has so far totaled more than 23.7 million cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection for almost 260,000 deaths. While a outbreak is currently hitting the country, doctors are worried, as explained in an article published by the BBC on May 9, 2021.
According to Soutik Biswas, correspondent for the British channel on site, recovering (or cured) Covid-19 patients are plagued by mucormycosis. This is a rare, life-threatening infection caused by microscopic filamentous fungi belonging to the order of Mucoral. These fungi are found everywhere in the environment, namely in the soil, on plants, animals, objects and even food. In other words, humans are generally in constant contact with those Mucoral and breathe in their spores without even realizing it.
You should know that mucormycosis is none other than the third invasive mycosis in order of importance, after candidiasis and aspergillosis. This disease affects people who are immunocompromised, i.e. having an immune deficiency or more precisely, an insufficiency of the natural means of defense of the organism. In these people, the fungus can cause a severe infection with a death rate of around 70% if untreated.
Several Covid-19 patients with amputated eyes
Generally, this type of yeast infection affects the face (nasal mucous membranes), pharynx and lungs. The infection destroys tissue and can cause local infarction and thrombosis. However, the fungus can also be the subject of dissemination via the bloodstream and reach the brain as well as the eyes. Pain, fever, necrosis, purulent secretion, eye and brain damage make up the list of symptoms.
At Sion Hospital in Mumbai (India), Dr Nair has recently treated 40 people with mucormycosis. However, he had dealt with less than ten over the past two years. The fact is that the coronavirus had infected patients in the two weeks preceding the fungal infection.
Of these patients, 11 underwent amputation of an eye. They already presented with diabetic ketoacidosis which weakens the immune system. In addition, they had also taken steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, the aim of which is to limit the damage of the coronavirus but which also have the perverse effect of further reducing immunity. For doctors, the combination of these two conditions have been very supportive of mucormycosis.