DHAKA (THE DAILY STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Amid the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, a new infection has surfaced - black fungus or Mucormycosis.
Although the infection has mostly spread in Delhi, Maharashtra, and Gujarat states of India, as a neighbouring country, we must also start taking preventive measures as it can have severe consequences, such as blindness, stroke and death.
A report published by The Daily Star mentions health experts suggesting that Covid-19 patients who have taken steroids are more susceptible to this disease because of reduced immune response of the body, as steroids often cause blood sugar to shoot up. Among all the Covid-19 patients, those with diabetes are the worst victims of black fungus. People with weak immune systems and patients taking immunosuppressants are at great risk of being afflicted as well.
We are relieved to know that health officials are planning to come up with some guidelines to prevent black fungus. While the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on Covid-19 has been preparing a set of recommendations, the Public Health Advisory Committee at the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) is also working to set up a prevention protocol.
According to the aforementioned report, the department of Microbiology and Immunology at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical Hospital (BSMMU) has one of the country's best laboratories in terms of testing black fungus.
The chairman of this department said that the BIRDEM hospital gets two or three cases of black fungus every month. This means that Bangladesh is already aware of the disease, which may make it easier for health experts to carry out proper treatment.
To tackle the threat of black fungus, indiscriminate use of steroids to treat Covid-19 patients outside the hospital have to be stopped and only used according to doctors' prescriptions. Besides, a strong surveillance system has to be set up so that black fungus patients can be identified easily and their treatment can be started as soon as possible.
All hospitals must be equipped to treat this disease and all laboratories and diagnostic centres should be on high alert so that they can detect the fungus during testing. Most importantly, the government has to carry out awareness-raising campaigns all over the country to make people understand the reasons behind the spread of black fungus and how to seek treatment, without creating any panic among the general populace.
- The Daily Star is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media organisations.