With Surging Black Fungus Cases in Bengaluru, Hospitals Out of Beds to Treat Patients

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Bengaluru is reporting shortage of hospital beds for patients with mucormycosis, a serious fungal infection seen in Covid patients. Majority of the hospitals in the city which has reserved the beds for such cases say their wars are full now.

Many patients who are turning up at the hospital are being sent back without treatment. Patients with mucormycosis require two weeks of hospital care, a report in The Times of India said.

The recent surge in the cases of black fungus, the Centre had asked all states to declare mucormycosis or “black fungus” an epidemic.

The Union Health Ministry has written to states and union territories to make mucormycosis a notifiable disease under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, stating that the infection is leading to prolonged morbidity and mortality amongst COVID-19 patients.

The infection develops in the nasal tract, travels towards the eye and can be fatal if it spreads to the brain. It is being seen in several people who have recovered from Covid-19.

According to experts, it is being found in patients who received high dose of steroids or were on oxygen support during the Covid treatment.

Minto Eye hospital has seen more than 80 patients. Out of the 80 patients only 50 were admitted, the remaining were referred to other hospitals due to bed shortage.

However, not every patient of black fungus had Covid. “We have come across one non-Covid patient with black fungus. Two patients were not treated in a hospital setting for Covid. We don’t know how they got infected,” Dr Sujatha Rathod, the director of Minto hospital said.

Another hospital in Bangalore, Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital, which was made nodal facility for treating mucormycosis said that all the 35 beds reserved for black fungus patients are currently occupied.

Experts say that there are 400-500 patients in Bengaluru alone. In other districts there are at least 25 cases. “This is just the tip of the iceberg. The condition has been declared a notifiable disease, so the actual data should be known shortly,” Dr Bhujang Shetty, a member of the state-level expert panel on mucormycosis reportedly said.

At St John’s Medical College Hospital, 53 patients are receiving treatment for mucormycosis. The hospital has stopped new admissions as the beds are full. “We are in a very tough situation, and our surgeons are performing back-to-back operations. Currently, we are unable to admit any more patients for black fungus treatment. We are helpless,” Dr Sanjiv Lewin, the chief of medical services at the hospital told TOI.

Dr Lewin adds that eye hospitals must start treating black fungus cases by hiring other specialists. According to him, all the patients with mucormycosis were diabetic and it might not be possible to treat such cases in eye hospitals as the condition requires multidisciplinary treatment.

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