As cases of black fungus or mucormycosis have been escalating in the country amid the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, several states have declared this rare fungal infection caused by a group of molds as a notifiable disease under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. Many Covid-19 patients in India, of late, found to have contracted the potentially fatal infection.
Recently, the Union health ministry urged the states and Union territories to make black fungus a notifiable disease under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, stating that the infection is leading to prolonged morbidity and mortality among Covid-19 patients. A notifiable disease is required by law to be reported to the government authorities. The collection of information allows the authorities to monitor the disease and provides early warning of possible outbreaks.
Mucormycosis, also known as ‘black fungus’, is more common among people whose immunity has lowered due to Covid-19, diabetes, kidney disease, liver or cardiac disorders, age-related issues, or those on medication for auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. The disease begins to manifest as a skin infection in the air pockets located behind the forehead, nose, cheekbones and in between the eyes and teeth. It then spreads to the eyes, lungs and can even spread to the brain. It leads to blackening or discoloration over the nose, blurred or double vision, chest pain, breathing difficulties and coughing of blood.
Here is a list of have declared mucormycosis a notifiable disease:
Odisha government has declared mucormycosis as a notifiable disease under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. On May 10, the Odisha government had announced that the first case of mucormycosis has been detected in the state. A state-level task force committee was promptly constituted for early detection and management of such cases.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot recently said the black fungus infection was notified as epidemic in Rajasthan as the state government is required to have complete details of patients suffering from it. Mucormycosis or black fungus is a notifiable disease in the state under the Rajasthan Pandemic Act. Around 100 patients in Rajasthan are affected by black fungus. For treatment, a separate ward has also been made at Sawai Man Singh (SMS) Hospital in Jaipur, as per protocol.
The Telangana government has declared mucormycosis a disease that is primarily affecting Covid-19 recovered patients as notifiable disease under Epidemic Diseases Act 1897, according to an official notification. The order stated that all government and private health facilities shall follow guidelines for screening, diagnosis and management of black fungus by the Union Health Ministry and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The government has designated the Gandhi General Hospital and state-run ENT Hospital as nodal centers for the treatment of black fungus.
Uttarakhand government has declared black fungus as a notifiable disease in the state under the Epidemic Act, 1897. So far, 64 people have been infected with black fungus in the state and of them, four have died. The state government also issued an SOP on Saturday for the judicious distribution of Amphotericin B, a drug used in treating black fungus patients.
5. Madhya Pradesh
The Madhya Pradesh government has declared black fungus a notified disease in the state. The state Public Health and Family Welfare Department on Friday issued an order, in which it notified black fungus under the provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act and the Madhya Pradesh Public Health Act. Four persons died of mucormycosis in Damoh and Balaghat districts of the state, officials had said on Friday.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has also announced black fungus as notified black fungus under the provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act.
Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar recently said mucormycosis infection is now a notifiable disease and no hospital or medical centre having the capacity to provide treatment should deny admission to patients. He had said an official government order towards this will be notified soon.
8. Tamil Nadu
The Tamil Nadu government has also declared black fungus as a notifiable disease after nine people were found to have been infected with it in the state.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has also declared black fungus an epidemic in the state. “Government and private hospitals/medical colleges treating the disease will have to follow guidelines by Union Health Ministry as well as ICMR for screening, diagnosis and treatment," according to a statement by Gujarat CMO.
10. West Bengal
Mucormycosis was made a notifiable disease in West Bengal on Tuesday, May 25. The state had confirmed 12 cases of black fungus till Monday, while two in a private hospital have also been confirmed by the state health department.
(with inputs from PTI)