Another surprise from India's worsening pandemic situation. The Health Ministry is asking pharmaceutical companies to ramp up production and distribution of antifungal medications after a new type of fungal infection was found in recovering COVID-19 patients last week.
In Ghaziabad, a city in the northern Uttar Pradesh state, as many as seven recovering COVID-19 patients have been diagnosed with invasive aspergillosis, a severe form of white fungus infection. Similar cases have been detected in cities in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Bihar.
White fungus infections are considered by health experts to be more dangerous than black fungus infections, called mucormycosis.
White fungus infections are dangerous and can affect many parts of the body including lungs, nails, skin, the stomach, kidneys, brain and mouth, BP Tyagi, an ear, nose and throat surgeon from Ghaziabad, explained.
Three of our 26 patients have developed both types of fungal infections. These infections develop in the post-COVID stage in patients, he added.
The white fungus cases reported across the country come after black fungus infections were declared an epidemic in six Indian states, with thousands of infections detected among recovering coronavirus patients.
Nearly 9,000 cases of black fungus infections have been reported. More than 250 people have died from the infections across India, according to government data.
The new fungal infections also come amid a shortage of Amphotericin B, a crucial antifungal drug.
White fungus infections are named after white-colored sores that occur in patients. The sores affect the esophagus and cause difficulty in swallowing food. White patches are also commonly found in the mouth.
People at risk include immuno-compromised patients, diabetics, cancer patients and patients who have undergone organ transplants. Fungal infections can be caused by molds present in the environment, improperly sterilized medical equipment and lack of personal hygiene.