NEW DELHI — Doctors in India are concerned about an increasing number of potentially fatal fungal infections affecting either people who have Covid-19 or those who have recently recovered from the disease.
The condition, known as mucormycosis, has a high mortality rate and was present in India before the pandemic. It is caused by a mold that thrives in wet environments and can attack through the respiratory tract, potentially eroding facial structures and harming the brain.
The condition is relatively rare, but doctors and medical experts say it seems to be infecting some Covid patients whose weakened immune systems and underlying conditions, particularly diabetes, leave them vulnerable.
Some experts attribute the fungal infections to an increased use of steroids to treat hospitalized patients. Another factor could be that, with hospitals overwhelmed in this second wave of the pandemic, many families are self-medicating and applying oxygen therapy at home without the proper hygiene, experts say.
according to the 2019 International Diabetes Foundation Atlas.
Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, who leads the Public Health Foundation of India, said a large number of the recent reported mucormycosis cases are of hospitalized coronavirus patients who have been discharged after their recovery.
“You are using steroids to reduce the hyperimmune response, which is there in Covid,” Dr. Reddy said. “But you are reducing the resistance to other infections.”