In the wake of India’s second wave of COVID-19, hospitals are reporting an increase in cases of mucormycosis, or “black fungus,” a serious but rare fungal infection, Business Insider reports.
Dr. Akshay Nair, an eye surgeon who works at three hospitals in Mumbai, told the BBC he saw at least 40 patients with the fungal infection in April alone; he said he had seen only 10 cases of mucormycosis in the prior two years.
Most of the patients had diabetes and developed symptoms two weeks after recovering from COVID-19. Eleven had to have surgery to remove an eye to stop the spread of the infection, which is lethal in half of cases.
Nair told the BBC that doctors thought steroids, a treatment that has proved effective for severe COVID-19, might play a role in fueling the infections. Steroids reduce inflammation and can prevent lung damage in those with COVID-19, but they also suppress the body’s immune system.