Treatment for black fungus at Bowring Hospital, govt to form expert panel: Minister

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Bengaluru, May 16 (PTI) Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar on Sunday said it has been decided to start treatment for 'black fungus' at Bowring Hospital here on a pilot basis, and later extend the treatment to medical colleges and district hospitals.

Noting that the treatment for black fungus infection is a bit costly, the Minister said he would discuss with the Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa regarding free treatment as he has also said a committee of experts would be set up to prepare a roadmap for treatment of those infected and how to curb the infection.

'Mucormycosis or black fungus is commonly seen among those who have less immunity or because of use of steroids. Those who have diabetes and are infected by COVID 10-15 days after they take steroids, the infection begins through the nose and spreads to the eyes and its parts like optic nerves and optic chiasm,' Sudhakar said.

Speaking to reporters here, he said there is danger of losing vision because of this and if timely treatment is not taken there are chances of death.

'After the infection was noticed in Maharashtra, we held discussions with eye specialists and experts (ophthalmologists) and from Monday at Bowring hospital, we are starting treatment for it,' he said adding: 'We are starting on a pilot basis, and will later continue in all medical colleges and some district hospitals.' Noting that Amphotericin B, the drug for black fungus infection is a bit costly, the Minister said a patient would require seven weeks of continued treatment to be cured and treatment may cost Rs 2-3 lakh per person.

'I will discuss with the Chief Minister and will suggest free treatment. Ultimately, he will decide,' the Minister said adding those with black fungus issues should immediately consult doctors.

The Centre is rationing the Amphotericin B drug and would be distributed to the State also, Sudhakar said adding that it was decided at the COVID task force meeting on Saturday to request the Centre to provide 20,000 vials of the drug.

He said he was in constant touch with Union Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers D V Sadanada Gowda and his Ministry in this regard and would also talk to the Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.

'There is no need for people to worry, but those with diabetes or other secondary infections, those who are immuno-compromised, with TB, HIV, cancer, with kidney or any other organ transplant, I advise all of them to exercise caution and not to use steroids without the doctor's consent,' he said.

Also, he advised doctors to exercise caution while administering steroids to such patients.

In response to a question, the Minister said it was difficult for now to say exactly as to how many are affected by black fungus or died of it, as people with such issues may have gone to private eye doctors.

He said he was constituting by Monday a committee consisting of eye specialists (ophthalmologist), endocrinologists, diabetologists on how to bring black fungus infections under control and how to treat patients with such infections.

Also, the Minister cautioned the people about dengue caused due to mosquito bite, especially during day time.

About 15,000-20,000 people get infected with dengue every year in the State, he said while asking people to take preventive measures like cleanliness particularly with the onset of monsoon in days. PTI KSU NVG NVG

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