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Is only India grappling with black fungus cases

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India is not the only country facing the crisis, even as it accounts for 71 percent of the total cases worldwide.

Is only India grappling with black fungus cases
India has reported a total of 8,848 cases of Mucormycosis or Black Fungus infections so far, union minister Sadananda Gowda informed today. The government has allocated over 23,000 vials of drugs used for the treatment of fungal infection to the states with a high number of black fungus cases.
“After a detailed review of rising number of cases of #Mucormycosis in various states, a total of 23,680 additional vials of #Amphotericin- B have been allocated to all States/UTs today. The Allocation has been made based on total number of patients which is approximately 8,848 across country," tweeted Gowda, the Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers.
Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra are among the states highly affected by black fungus infections. Maharashtra tops the list among affected states with 2000 black fungus cases.
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"There has been an increasing trend in the fungal infection being seen in COVID patients. This was also reported to some extent during the SARS outbreak. Uncontrolled diabetes with COVID-19 can predispose to the development of Mucormycosis", said All India Institute of Medical Sciences Director Dr. Randeep Guleria to news agency ANI.
What is black fungus disease?
This is a rare fungal infection caused by a group of molds known as mucormycetes, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It has always been there with doctors saying that the fungus is everywhere in the environment from air to soil. But human immune system stops it from wreaking havoc on the body.

The fungal disease is commonly seen in South Asian countries like India and China, particularly among patients suffering from diabetes, cancer, or immune compromising conditions like HIV AIDS.

Now, with COVID-19 severely compromising one’s immune system, especially of those having co-morbid health issues like diabetes, heart and kidney ailments and cancer, survivors are becoming more susceptible to the disease.

People get Mucormycosis by breathing in the fungal spores in hospitals or homes through oxygen humidifiers using. The black fungus spreads through the eyes, nose, and mouth.

Why the black fungus cases are rising in India?

Excessive sugar in the bloodstream or diabetes is one of the higher risk factors and India has a high rate of diabetes. Also, over-prescription of steroids or having them at home without medical advice to recover from COVID-19 is another reason behind black fungus infections.

Besides, there is a severe shortage of the main anti-fungal drug to treat the infection, Amphotericin B, according to various media reports, with the government and manufacturers scrambling to ramp up production.

Are there other nations facing the black fungus cases?

India is not the only country facing the crisis, even as it accounts for 71 percent of the total cases worldwide.

An April 2021 research paper published by the National Centre of Biotechnology Information (NCBI) in the US, titled "When Uncontrolled Diabetes Mellitus and Severe COVID-19 Converge: The Perfect Storm for Mucormycosis," India accounted for 71 percent of the total cases of black fungus reported from around the world in March 2021, according to a report in India Today.

Apart from India, Pakistan and Russia are also seeing a surge in black fungus infections, the India Today report mentioned. Russia confirmed reports of black fungus among the COVID patients on May 17, though ruling out a possibility of a person-to-person spread. It has claimed that the situation is in control.

Even in pre-COVID times, though cases have been common in China and India, the “disease burden is higher in Europe”, as per a research paper on black fungus by NCBI. As many as 34 percent of the black fungus cases were reported from Europe, 31 percent were from Asia besides 28 percent from North and South America. Three percent of cases were reported from Africa and Australia-New Zealand reported another 3 percent.

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