22 Dec 2020: Gujarat government issues advisory on mucormycosis fungal infection
The Gujarat health department has issued an advisory to doctors and health officials after some COVID-19 patients were recently found infected with mucormycosis, saying it is a serious but rare fungal infection and has an overall "mortality rate of 50 percent".
As per the advisory issued on Monday, mucormycosis infects people with a weak immune system and having other existing illnesses.
Fact: Mucormycosis fungal infection affects lungs
It most commonly affects the sinuses or lungs after inhaling fungal spores from the air, or the skin after the fungus enters through a cut, burn, or other types of skin injury. "However, it can occur in any part of the body," said the advisory.
Details: Some coronavirus patients infected with mucormycosis fungal infection
The health department said the advisory is being issued after some coronavirus patients in Ahmedabad and Rajkot were found infected with mucormycosis, which is "caused by a group of molds called mucormycetes".
It added, though the "overall mortality rate is around 50 percent," early identification and treatment can lead to a better outcome.
Fact: 44 cases of mucormycosis reported in Ahmedabad
Until last week, 44 cases of mucormycosis, including 19 cases in COVID recovered patients, and nine deaths were reported in Ahmedabad. In Delhi, 12 cases of mucormycosis were reported until last week. Two deaths due to mucormycosis were reported in Rajkot on Monday.
Information: People with organ transplantation at risk of the infection
The advisory said people having diabetes or cancer, or those who underwent organ transplants, stem cell transplants, or people with too much iron in the body, are at a greater risk of contracting this infection.
The health department said, "Mucormycosis cannot spread between people or between people and animals. People get mucormycosis through contact with fungal spores in the environment."
Prevention: Preventive measures issued by the Gujarat health department
Enlisting some preventive measures, like wearing N95 masks, the advisory said these are recommendations and they have not been proven to prevent mucormycosis.
Apart from wearing the N95 mask, people should avoid direct contact with a lot of dust, wear shoes, long pants, and gloves while handling soil or moss, and clean skin injuries well with soap and water, the advisory states.