Indian states have been advised to declare mucormycosis -- also known as black fungus -- as a “notifiable disease” so data may be collated at a national level, Lav Agarwal secretary of the Indian Ministry of Health said at a news conference Thursday.
At least seven states including Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Odisha, Haryana and Karnataka have already done so, according to respective state government authorities.
In the past few weeks, thousands of black fungus cases have been reported across the country, with hundreds hospitalized and at least 90 dead.
Many of those being infected are coronavirus patients, or those who have recently recovered from Covid-19, whose immune systems have been weakened by the virus or who have underlying conditions -- most notably diabetes.
Black fungus commonly affects the sinuses or lungs after inhaling fungal spores in the air, and can also affect the skin after a surface injury like a cut or burn. Symptoms depend on where in the body the fungus is growing, but can include facial swelling, fever, skin ulcers and and black lesions in the mouth.
Request for supplies: With hospitals across the country facing a shortage of the drug used to treat black fungus, citizens across India have taken to Twitter to ask for help.
Bhavya Reddy, a resident in India's southern Telangana state, said her father was diagnosed with black fungus on April 26 -- the same day he recovered from Covid.
"Once he started to recover (from Covid) his face started to swell," Reddy said. "When the swelling did not reduce, (doctors) told us to get the injection."
The hospital did not have supply of Amphotericin B, and she had to appeal to the state's chief minister to receive vials of the drug, she said. Once the medicine was secured, her father underwent an endoscopic sinus surgery to relieve the swelling.
At least 150 cases of black fungus have been detected in Telangana, according to the state’s director of health and family welfare.
Ahmedabad Civil Hospital in Gujarat state has 369 patients with black fungus. On average, 25 to 30 surgeries are performed daily, according to J. V. Modi, medical superintendent at the hospital.
What the government is doing: India's government has acknowledged there has been a shortage of Amphotericin B, the drug used for treating black fungus.
Mansukh Mandaviya, a junior minister of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, tweeted on Thursday adding that five companies in India have been approved to produce the drug, in addition to an existing six.
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