India, already in the midst of a catastrophic wave of COVID-19 infections, is now facing a dual health crisis: dangerous “black fungus” infections developing in recovered patients’ brains.
Typically, mucormycosis is an extremely rare infection caused when mold takes root in a person’s brain, lungs, or sinuses, The BBC reports. A healthy person’s immune system can typically fend it off — the actual fungus is surprisingly common — but India is now seeing a surge of infections among COVID patients and survivors — and doctors are struggling to save patients from the disease and its horrifying 50 percent mortality rate.
“We are already seeing two to three cases a week here,” Renuka Bradoo, the head of the ear, nose, and throat wing at Mumbai’s Sion Hospital told the BBC. “It’s a nightmare inside a pandemic.”
The problem appears to be is that doctors are treating severe coronavirus patients with steroids, which are life-saving in the moment but weakens their immune systems after the fact. That’s especially the case among people with diabetes, who make up a large percentage of India’s mucormycosis patients.