COVID-19 patient dies in Assam, black fungus infection suspected

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Guwahati, May 19 (PTI) A COVID-19 patient died of suspected black fungus infection, the first such case reported in Assam, at a private hospital in the state capital on Wednesday, officials said.

The 27-year-old male patient was admitted to the hospital on May 16 in a critical condition and he had all the symptoms of black fungus infection, a senior official of the private hospital told PTI on condition of anonymity.

'He was being treated in Nagaon and when he arrived, we immediately put him in the ICU. There were enough symptoms like presence of black fungus-like black patches on his face and loss of vision,' he added.

His samples have been sent for testing fungal culture, the official said.

'Clinically speaking, we can say that the patient had black fungus. But we can say it definitely only after studying the fungal culture, which will take around four days,' the official said.

Mucormycosis or black fungus is a complication caused by a fungal infection. People catch the infection by coming in contact with fungal spores in the environment. It can also develop after the fungus enters the skin through a cut, burn, or other types of skin trauma.

It can affect areas from where it can be inhaled - through the nose, sinus, or lungs. If it enters from a wound or skin, it can cause local infection, but if it enters from the sinus, it can affect the eyes and brain.

When contacted, a senior official of the Directorate of Health Services said that the government does not have any data as of now as infection by black fungus has not been made a 'notified disease' in the state.

'We are working on this and there is no need to panic. We have enough stock of medicines in the state to treat the infection,' the official told PTI.

Meanwhile, a government release said the Health Department has instructed a team of medical experts to study the development related to black fungus in the state and submit a report by Wednesday night.

'We will issue necessary directives after receiving the report. We are very serious about infection by black fungus and keeping a close watch. I request the public not to panic as black fungus is not a communicable disease,' Health Minister Keshab Mahanta said.

Assam reported 89 deaths due to COVID-19 on Wednesday, while the number of COVID-19 cases rose sharply with 6,143 persons testing positive, pushing the total number of infections to 3,47,001. PTI TR MM MM

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