COVID-19 stimulated Mucormycosis: Severe fungal infection affecting COVID patients with diabetes and other co-morbidities

COVID-19 disease is basically caused by a virus that infects your body by entering healthy cells and there, the deadly invader makes copies of itself, multiplying throughout your body. It wouldn’t be incorrect to say that once infected, recovering from COVID-19 is a battle. But for many patients, recovering from the after-effects of COVID is what turns out to be more difficult.

Apart from some common consequences like fatigue, feeling groggy or fuzzy-headed, joint pain and deep bone aches, chest pain, heart palpitations, headaches, dizziness, and insomnia, a new medical condition called mucormycosis, which is basically a fungal infection is emerging as a new complication occurring in some COVID patients who have diabetes and other co-morbidities like dental problems, kidney infections and cancer-related issues.

A few months ago, around the month of December last year, a hospital in Delhi reported around 13 cases of a fungal infection in patients that were triggered by COVID-19 infection. The infection later caused serious illness among patients resulting in loss of eyesight, removal of the nose and jaw bone, while five people died because of the infection. The infection that caused severe effects on the patient’s body was identified as Mucormycosis, a fungal infection that occurs when a person has a weakened immunity due to illness or health condition, during both treatment and after recovery.

The infection was not much visible during the first wave of COVID-19, but in recent times the number of cases depicting this fungal infection is increasing and is raising concerns among various doctors and medical practitioners across the country. The fungal infection has high mortality rate of 50 percent and an increasing number of COVID-19 patients have been developing this infection during the current second wave.

What is the reason behind such infection? 

Doctors believe that the reason behind the increase in such cases is majorly that patients suffering from COVID-19 are being given heavy doses of steroids and antibiotics during hospitalisation, which is responsible for lowering their immunity levels. Also, COVID severely impacts the immunity of a person already suffering from diabetes and other co-morbidities. Taking advantage of such situation, the fungus impacts the patient’s body during COVID-19 infection and after their recovery.

The fungal infection mainly affects body parts like nose, eyes and even the brain, creating a gangrene-like situation and thus requiring removal of the affected parts by surgery.

Who are more likely to be affected?

The fungal infection is often the result of compromised immunity after COVID-19. In many cases, the infection is even witnessed in patients who are suffering from COVID and have not recovered. The infection is mostly seen in patients who are in the hospitals for more than 15-20 days for getting COVID free as during the course of their treatment they were heavily dependent on the medicines that affected their immunity.

The infection is also seen in patients who are still COVID positive, often affecting those with uncontrolled Type 1 diabetes, chronic kidney disease, cancer, etc.

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