A Mumbai-based infectious diseases specialist, Dr. Om Srivastava, said that they are experiencing a large number of patients with white fungus infection during the second coronavirus wave. The medical experts diagnosed several sick Indians in intensive care units, and most of them are on high doses of steroids.
As the second wave of COVID-19 washes over India and critically ill patients clog in the ICUs, doctors are seeing a surge in a host of fatal fungal infections. For example, Candida Auris was initially discovered over ten years ago and is one of the most featured hospital microbes in the world. Moreover, this bloodstream infection normally detects germs in critical-care units across the world and has a mortality rate of around seventy percent.
There was a pandemic of the black-fungus or mucormycosis, a rare but deadly infection, which directly attacks the eye, nose, and sometimes the brain. Around twenty-eight thousand cases and over two hundred deaths from the infection previously recorded. At present, doctors are reporting an increase in other fatal fungal infections in coronavirus patients, mostly after one week or ten days of stay in the ICU.
How many species of Candida, and how are they dangerous for COVID-19 patients?
Moreover, there are two species of Candida fungi – Albicans and Auris – and they can be deadly for human beings. Aspergillus is another type of fungi group, and it affects the lungs and can also be lethal. Ober, the five million kinds of fungi, Aspergillus and Candida, are two main groups that cause many human deaths. Candida is a germ that may be present on several surfaces such as computer screens, shower curtains, railings of railway carriages, and doctor’s stethoscopes.
According to doctors, C. Auris frequently causes bloodstream infections in human beings and can also infect the central nervous system, internal organs, respiratory system, and skin. Moreover, aspergillus remains in the environment and usually found in air conditioning or heating systems. Usually, human immunity helps prevent the entrance of the fungal spores into the respiratory zone.
However, in patients suffering from coronavirus, the fungus, helped by the damage done to the blood vessel walls, the skin, and other coatings of the airway by the COVID-19, manages to enter the respiratory area. In addition, the infection affects around twenty percent to thirty percent of the severely ill, mechanically ventilated coronavirus patients.
What are the symptoms of fungus infections?
Symptoms of some fungal infections may be similar to those of coronaviruses, such as shortness of breath, cough, and fever. Whereas for superficial Candida infections, symptoms include the white fungus – in the mouth, nose, stomach, lungs, or nail beds. For the more aggressive type of infection – when the bug moves into the blood – the symptoms are usually a fall in blood pressure, abdominal pain, urinary tract infections, or fever.
What are the causes behind these infections?
About five percent of coronavirus patients become critically ill and need ICU treatment, sometimes for an extended period. Furthermore, experts say that those put on mechanical ventilation are always at a bigger risk of developing fungal or bacterial infections. Whereas lowered infection control in crowded ICUs during the outbreak is the main reason.
Overworked healthcare staff members in clunky protective gear, lesser handwashing compliance, heavy use of big fluid tubes, and changes in disinfection & cleaning practices contribute to lower infection control. The president of the International Society of Human & Animal Mycology, Dr. Arunaloke Chakrabarti, said that exhaustion and complacency set in among healthcare staff with a continuous outbreak. As a result, infection control practices in doctors gone down, and it is the major cause.
Other reasons also contribute to the overuse of steroids and other drugs that weaken the human body’s immune system, and underlying conditions such as coronavirus patients in critical care are more likely to have such infections. In addition, diagnosis is not easy – testing naturally needs a sample from deep in the lungs, and the drugs are expensive.