Days after a COVID-19 recovered patient died of mucormycosis or black fungus at a hospital here, the Assam Health and Family Welfare Department on Friday released a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to contain the possible spread of the disease.
The Union Health Ministry has already appealed to all the states and Union Territories to declare black fungus as a notifiable disease under the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897.
The order issued by the principal secretary to the Assam governments Health Department said, a large number of similar cases have been reported from other parts of the country, and there is a likelihood of an increase in the number of such cases in the future.
“In order to screen, diagnose and manage such cases of black fungus in COVID patients, the Standard Operating Procedure is notified with immediate effect,” it said.
The SOP contains details about symptoms, management of COVID-19 patients with black fungus infection and advisory for the general public, and treatment protocols.
Elaborating on black fungus infection, it said, mucormycosis is a rare serious fungal infection caused by ungus Mucor.
People can be infected with black fungus by coming in contact with its spores in the environment.
It can also develop in the skin after the fungus enters the skin through a cut, abrasion, burn, or other types of skin trauma, the advisory said.
People who have uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, and immune-suppressed patients, those in ICU for a prolonged period, people with HIV or malnutrition, and those on steroids for medical cause need to be careful if they develop nasal blockage, facial or cheekbone pain, blackish and foul-smelling nasal discharge, congestion or redness and swelling of eyes and nose, and difficulty in vision.
The other symptoms are headache and fever, seizures, altered mental state, cough, and blood-stained sputum, shortness of breath with worsening respiratory problem, toothache, loosening of teeth, and blackish discoloration in the skin with Necrosis (death of cells or tissue through disease or injury).
The guidelines issued to prevent black fungus in COVID-19 patients suggested better control of the sugar levels during COVID with or without steroids, judicious use of steroids observing correct timing, correct dose and correct duration, use of clean or sterile water for humidifiers during the oxygen therapy.
People were urged to use masks while visiting dusty construction sites, wear shoes, long trousers, long sleeve shirts, and gloves while handling garden soil, moss or manure, maintain personal hygiene and seek immediate medical attention in case they develop the symptoms.
The death of a 27-year-old COVID-19 recovered patient due to black fungus in Assam on Wednesday was the first such case reported in the northeastern state.