Four cases of “white fungus”, also called “candidiasis”, were detected on Wednesday at a government-run medical college in Patna, the capital city of the eastern state of Bihar, which is seeing a particular spike in Covid cases.
The Covid-triggered black fungus has already claimed over 200 lives and infected at least 7,000 people across India, leading the country’s health ministry to ask states to declare it an epidemic.
The chief of microbiology at Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), Dr S N Singh, told Indian media outlets that all four people infected with white fungus showed coronavirus-like symptoms but had not been found to be positive for Covid-19 when tested.
Mr Singh said the white fungus patients had suffered damage to their lungs similar to that caused typically by Covid infection.
“After the white fungus was detected, the patients were treated with antifungal medicines and have since shown improvement in their condition,” Mr Singh said.
The officials have also raised concerns that the fungal infection is spreading more easily than black fungus to other parts of the body, including the nails, skin, stomach, kidney, brain, private parts and mouth.
There have yet to be any other cases of white fungus reported across the country.
An official of the same medical college told reporters that the oxygen saturation level of one of the four patients detected with white fungus also dropped.
“That patient was a doctor himself, who was admitted to a private hospital after showing symptoms of Covid-19. He tested negative for Covid but his lung was infected. Hence, a close relative approached us and brought him here. We conducted some tests and detected white fungus,” the PMCH doctor said.
The fungus is believed to be more dangerous for those who have weakened immune systems, including diabetes patients and those who are taking steroids for a long period of time – one of the treatments for severe Covid cases – the officials warned.