Misuse of steroids is cause of mucormycosis, says Randeep Guleria


New Delhi : All India Institute of Medical Sciences’ (AIIMS) Director Randeep Guleria on Saturday said misuse of steroids is a major cause behind mucormycosis.

Guleria also urged the hospitals to follow protocols of infection control practices as secondary infections — fungal and bacterial — can be seen as the COVID-19 cases are increasing and are causing more mortality.

The AIIMS director while addressing the health briefing, said, “As COVID-19 cases are increasing, it’s of paramount importance that we follow protocols of infection control practices at hospitals. It is been seen that secondary infections — fungal & bacterial — are causing more mortality.”

He said, “Mucormycosis spores are found in soil, air and even in food. But they are of low virulence and usually do not causes infection. There were very few cases of this infection before COVID. Now a large number of cases are being reported due to COVID.”

At AIIMS, 23 patients are being treated for this fungal infection. Out of them, 20 are still COVID-19 positive & the rest are negative for COVID. Many states have reported more than 500 cases of mucormycosis, said Guleria.
He further said, “Mucormycosis can affect the face, infecting nose, the orbit of the eye, or brain, which can cause even vision loss. It can also spread to the lung.”

“Misuse of steroids is a major cause behind this infection. Chances of fungal infection increase in the patients who are diabetic, COVID positive and those who are taking steroids. To prevent it, we should stop the misuse of steroids,” AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria added.

Earlier in the day, the Haryana government declared Mucormycosis a notified disease and the Odisha government has constituted a seven-member state-level committee to monitor such cases in the state. On May 12, two people have lost their lives Black Fungus infection in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore.

Mucormycosis is a very rare infection caused by exposure to mucor mold which is commonly found in soil, plants, manure, and decaying fruits and vegetables. It is colloquially known as ‘black fungus’.

Mucormycosis is a battle within a war of COVID-19. It can occur either concurrent to the COVID-19 infection or in the early post-recovery phase. It can affect the eyes and brain, warned Dr Tarjani Vivek Dave, Senior Ophthalmologist at L.V. Prasad Eye Institute.

Even though the fungus is present in the oral and respiratory lining of healthy individuals, it does not manifest an infection in the presence of a healthy and intact immune system. Generally, this infection occurs in patients with uncontrolled diabetes, ongoing cancer chemotherapy, on-term steroid therapy, following an organ transplant, extensive burns, and polytrauma (severe injuries).