Minister cites possible causes for black fungus

As per the preliminary report of the microbiologists’ committee, possible sources of contamination in mucormycosis (black fungus) cases were use of tap water for humidifiers, and growth of fungus in cannulas and ICU equipment, Health and Family Welfare Minister K. Sudhakar has said.

He told presspersons before inspecting the facilities and COVID management at Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) and Hospital in Hubballi on Saturday distilled water should be used for humidifiers. “However it has been found that tap water was used instead of distilled water. Cannulas and other equipment are used in ICUS. To check fungus growth, they should be completely sanitised or new sets of equipment should be used for treatment according to the preliminary report”, he said.

To a query, Dr. Sudhakar said that another reason for the disease was excess use or abuse of steroids. Excess use of steroids would badly affect the immunity of patients with diabetes, which in turn would lead to attack of mucormycosis, he said.

Clarifying that mucormycosis was not an epidemic, he said that hardly around 40 plus cases used to be reported in the country earlier. “Now such numbers are being reported from district centres. As per the data available, around 250 infected cases of the disease have been reported in the State. And as announced by the Chief Minister, all these patients will be treated free of cost. Precautionary measures too are being taken.”

₹350 cr. spent

Later addressing a press conference at Indira Glass House after inspection of KIMS and holding district-level review meeting on COVID management, Dr. Sudhakar said that the State government had spent ₹350 crore for COVID management and various healthcare facilities during the last year. “Apart from providing free treatment at government hospitals, the government is also providing free treatment to patients in private hospitals. And high-cost medicines are being procured for treatment of mucormycosis. The treatment, which will cost around ₹2.5 lakh, is being provided free of cost to all the infected patients.”

Clarifying that there was no shortage of medicines for treatment of black fungus, he said the State would receive 1,450 vials of the required medicine in a day and doctors had been directed to initiate the line of treatment. “We have told doctors that we will ensure that the supply chain is not broken”, he added.

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