Srinagar: The Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Tuesday said Aspergillosis, commonly known as white fungus could be deadly in Covid-19 patients.
After black fungus, several cases of white fungus have been reported in Uttar Pradesh among recovered Covid-19 patients.
“White fungus could be just as fatal as black fungus in Covid-19 patients,” said DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan.
Quoting a study of 186 Covid-19 patients who had Aspergillosis, he said more than 50 percent of them died and one-third of these deaths were linked to the Aspergillus fungus.
Dr Hassan said Aspergillus is ubiquitous and is found in soil, air and rotting food.
“Despite being common in the environment, it usually does not cause infection in healthy individuals,” he said.
“When the body’s defenses get weakened, the fungus gets a chance to infect with devastating results,” he added.
Dr Hassan said Covid depletes immune cells leaving patients vulnerable to opportunistic fungal infection.
“The virus damages the cells lining the lung that impairs the organ’s ability to clear out the respiratory pathogens like Aspergillus,” he said.
The DAK President said the drugs that are used to treat Covid-19 heighten the risk of Aspergillus infection.
“Use of steroids leaves door open for the fungal infection in Covid-19 patients,” he said.
“After inhaling fungus from the air, the fungal infection goes to the lungs and causes pneumonia,” Dr Nisar said.
“The symptoms of Aspergillosis include fever, cough and shortness of breath that are similar to Covid-19 which means healthcare professionals don’t think of the diagnosis and many patients may be dying undiagnosed,” he said.
“A high degree of suspicion should be there for the doctors treating Covid-19 patients because early detection and treatment with antifungal drugs holds the key,” said Dr Nisar.
“Recently, in The Lancet, an international group of physicians and medical mycology societies laid down recommendations for diagnosing Aspergillus infections in COVID-19 patients, including doing lung imaging scans and taking samples from the lungs at regular interval for testing. The guidelines will help doctors treating Covid-19 patients know whether they’re battling one deadly pathogen, or two,” he added.