Bengaluru patient diagnosed with black, green fungus

Covid-19: Bengaluru patient diagnosed with black, green fungus

The patient had persistent headaches and numbness of the cheek. A CT scan revealed a fungal infection

Representative Image. Credit: iStock Photo

It was an unusual finding for ENT surgeon Dr Prashanth R Reddy at BGS Gleneagles Global Hospital, in the first week of June, when the hospital lab delivered microbiology reports of a patient with both green fungus (aspergillus fumigatus) and black fungus (mucormycosis).

The patient had persistent headaches and numbness of the cheek. A CT scan revealed a fungal infection in the sinus and below the eye surface.

Dr Prasanth Reddy told DH, "When I operated, I realised it wasn't just the Mucor fungus. There were crystals inside his sinus cavity. What's worrying is that while aspergillosis is common, this species of fungus is not common. The green colour is not common, it's generally white in colour and is only present in the soil. After Covid, the mucosa of the sinuses is killed. Any dead tissue will lead to the growth of fungus, be it food or the human body."

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The doctor believes the surge in fungal infections is due to variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. But the patient's Covid sample is not available for genomic sequencing. He also pointed to high zinc levels in such patients. "Patients are abusing multivitamins like vitamin C tablets and antibiotics. Antibiotics can't help in reducing a viral infection," he added.

The patient, 45-year-old Karthikeyan R, an independent paediatric physiotherapist in Mysuru, tested positive for Covid on April 24 and was in home quarantine with two of his friends who were also Covid positive. After his oxygen saturation started decreasing after five days, he was hospitalised. He had become diabetic five years ago. He was moved to the ICU on May 6.

"My oxygen saturation had gone down to 75," he said. After eight days of intubation, on a ventilator, on the sixth day, he started stabilising.

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"I developed sinusitis (cavities around the nasal passages become inflamed) when I was moved to the ward. I had severe pain in the right side of my face. I came to Bengaluru to see an ENT surgeon who operated on June 9. Though my corona symptoms have come down, a part of my face is still numb. Due to general body weakness, I won't resume work till after two months," Karthikeyan said.

Have you recovered from Covid? Watch out for these three stages of fungal infection:

Stage 1

-- Eye pain, headache, cheek pain or tooth pain

Stage 2

-- Redness/swelling of the eye/cheek/palette

Stage 3

-- Facial skin of the nose and cheek turns black and peels. Blurring of vision

Patients can rapidly progress from stage 1 to stage 3 in a matter of hours. It's a myth that only those patients who were hospitalised for Covid develop fungal infections post Covid, say doctors. Majority of them were, in fact, home-isolated.

 

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