7 suspected cases of Black Fungus in Bengal: Health dept

Kolkata: Though the state health department is yet to confirm any deaths owing to mucormycosis, commonly known as Black Fungus infection, seven persons have been infected and eight more are suspected to be suffering from Black Fungus infection in the state.

Even as there are two cases of suspected deaths related to the infection, the department said that those are under inspection.

A release issued by the state health department says seven persons have been confirmed with Black Fungus infection. There are eight more persons who are suspected to be infected by the virus but they are undergoing treatment and the medical board is yet to confirm this.

When asked whether there has been any death owing to the infection, a senior state government official said, “There are two suspected deaths but the expert committee constituted specially for this purpose are yet to confirm that the deaths are because of Black Fungus”.

Recently a 32-year-old woman died of suspected mucormycosis, an infection which might become the first death due to the disease in West Bengal. Though the state health department is yet to confirm it, Shampa Chakraborty, a resident of Haridevpur, was admitted to the Sambhunath Pandit Hospital. The patient died on Saturday.

Besides constituting an expert committee to deal with Black Fungus cases, the state health department has formulated an advisory, titled ”Mucormycosis – if uncared for – may turn fatal”, for the common people.

The advisory mentions warning signs of the disease such as pain and redness around eyes or nose, fever, headache, coughing and shortness of breath along with vomiting blood and ”altered mental status” – general changes in brain function like confusion, amnesia, loss of alertness and disorientation.

Those having health conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes, suppression of the immune system by steroids, prolonged stay in ICU, comorbidities post-transplant and malignancy are prone to be attacked by the fungal disease, it said.

The advisory pointed out that nasal blockade or congestion, one-sided facial pain, numbness, blackish discolouration over bridge of nose or palate, toothache, loosening of teeth, blurred vision along with chest pain and worsening of respiratory symptoms are suspected signs of being infected by mucormycosis.

As people catch the infection by coming in contact with fungal spores in the environment, people have been cautioned against having exposure to decaying bread, fruits and vegetables, besides soil, compost and excreta.

“Wear shoes, long trousers, long sleeve shirts and gloves while handling soil gardening. People must maintain personal hygiene and thorough scrubbing is recommended while bathing,” the advisory said.

The disease can develop after the fungus enters the skin through a cut, burn or other types of skin trauma.

The advisory said that use of masks is necessary especially during visits to dusty construction sites.

On the management of the disease, the health department has advised adherence to strict diabetes and diabetic ketoacidosis control as well as reducing steroids.

“Discontinue immunomodulating drugs and infuse normal saline before Amphotericin B (an antifungal medication) infusion. Patients should be monitored clinically and with radio imaging for response and to detect disease progression,” the advisory read.

The blood-glucose level should be monitored post Covid-19 discharge as well as regular examinations to find any warning signs, it stated, besides mentioning judicious usage of steroid and antibiotics.