A deadly black fungus is rotting the limbs of coronavirus patients in India.
Doctors in Delhi have reported a killer infection sweeping Covid-19 hospital wards, halving the survival rate of those who contract it.
Symptoms of the fungus known as mucormycosis, depend on where it infects the body but includes blindness, black lesion spots and blisters, leading in some cases to amputations.
An outbreak of the black infection was first reported in coronavirus patients last year when 12 cases were recorded in the space of a fortnight.
In just two days at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi this week, there have been six cases of mucormycosis with infections also found in other Indian hospitals.
Dr Atul Gogia from the Delhi hospital told The Independent: “It happens when patients have high or uncontrollable sugar. We are seeing at least a case of mucormycosis every day but it is nothing unusual.”
A senior ENT surgeon at the same hospital in Rajendra Nagar, added: “We are seeing a rise again in this dangerous fungal infection triggered by Covid-19.
“Last year, this deadly infection caused high mortality with many patients suffering from the loss of eyesight and the removal of the nose and the jaw bone.”
Caused by a group of molds called mucormycetes, mucormycosis rare and will typically only harm poor immune systems or increased blood sugar levels.
According to Dr Gaurav Kumar, a resident doctor at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, mucormycosis mainly affects the brain, sinus, or eyes but can be found anywhere in the body.
“It is emerging as a significant challenge for doctors in the second wave of Covid-19. Some of the drugs used in the treatment of Covid-19 also suppress the immune system,” Dr Gaurav Kumar told the Independent.
He continued: “Over judicious use of steroids shoot up the blood sugar level and those with uncontrollable sugar leading to increase chances of fungal infection.”
Recovering Covid patients on ventilatory support have been most commonly hit by the fungus, as a result of non-sterile water in their humidifier bottle.
Dr Kumar explained when that humidifier bottle is connected to an oxygen tube, a number of microorganisms can grow and pass into the body, causing infection.
A range of mucormycosis symptoms can be easily confused as Covid-19 symptoms, from unilateral facial swelling, headache, and nasal congestion to blackish skin.
Delhi is at the centre of India’s coronavirus crisis with 90,000 current covid patients pushing hospitals beyond their capacity for both beds and oxygen.
India reported the highest 414,188 fresh cases in the last 24 hours and 3,915 deaths to become the first country in the world to report above 400,000 cases.