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Is Poor Quality Oxygen Behind Black Fungus in Covid Patients? Karnataka Orders Study to Trace its Source

Representational image.

Representational image.

Doctors flag off contaminated oxygen in cylinders as a possible cause as widespread use of industrial oxygen raises concerns.

Bengaluru: The Karnataka government has ordered a study to trace the source of oxygen given to patients suffering from Covid-19 in order to trace the origin of the huge surge in mucormycosis (black fungus infection) cases in the state. A team of microbiologists has also been asked to record the clinical history of all patients affected by the infection, and analyse data on source of oxygen given to them during treatment.

The head of Covid Task Force and deputy chief minister, Dr CN Ashwath Narayan, ordered for these studies after doctors flagged off the possibility that bad quality of oxygen, piping in hospitals or cylinders and quality of water supply to industries or oxygen plants could be the cause behind the surge in black fungus infections post Covid-19.

The decision to study the pattern of patients came after a review of spike in black fungus infections by the treatment protocol committee on Sunday. While it used to be normal to record about a 100 cases a year in the entire country in pre-Covid times, Karnataka alone recorded about 700 cases in the last one week. Such cases have not been reported in any of the Covid-hit countries in the world and the spurt in cases in unique to India, leading to suspicion about quality of treatment/ treatment tools during hospitalisation.

The decision on data analytics of patient records and pattern came after a presentation by Dr Sampath Chandra Prasad Rao, skull surgeon at the Manipal Hospital (Bengaluru).

He said during his presentation that the probable reasons for the surge in black fungus could be due to contamination either due to low-quality cylinders or low-quality piping system at the ICU level in hospitals or contamination at the industry level, from where the oxygen is being supplied (due to low standard sterilisation or any other such reasons), said a statement from the deputy CM’s office. Dr Rao also suspected that usage of ordinary tap water in ventilators may have led to similar treatment flaws.

“To meet the rise in demand for oxygen, industrial oxygen is being procured in large quantity and questions are being raised on whether the oxygen supplied from industries matches with the quality of medical oxygen that is usually in use or not,” the statement said.

The microbiological study will start off from Monday, covering reported cases and treatment protocols during hospitalisation.

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first published:May 24, 2021, 09:34 IST