Healthy people not at risk of black fungus: experts
After a Covid-19 patient was diagnosed with black fungus (mucormycosis) at Chattogram Medical College Hospital (CMCH), fear of contracting the disease has gripped the city residents.
Many are expressing concern on social media and many others are calling media offices to know more about the black fungus.
However, health experts say that mucormycosis is neither contagious nor a new disease in the country, but it is very rare.
But if anyone is infected, proper treatment should be started immediately. Otherwise, it could be fatal, they said.
They advised maintaining personal hygiene and following health rules.
"Mucormycosis is a fungus, spore of which is in air and soil," said Dr AQM Serajul Islam, a former professor and head of CMCH's dermatology department.
"The fungus is in nature around us but it cannot harm a healthy person," Dr Serajul said.
"It infects people who are immune-suppressed and take immune-suppressive drugs for a long time," said Dr Serajul, also president of Bangladesh Dermatological Society.
Asked why some Covid-19 patients get infected with black fungus, he said patients who are treated with steroid improperly or for a long time are vulnerable to mucormycosis.
Covid-19 patients, who have diabetes or other comorbidities including cancer, HIV or kidney failure, are also vulnerable to this disease, Dr Serajul said.
"Patients who received treatment in ICU for a long period are also vulnerable," he added.
Echoing the same, Prof Dr Sujat Paul, head of medicine and Covid-19 ward at CMCH, said mucormycosis is not contagious and everyone should maintain personal hygiene and follow health rules.
Dr Sheikh Fazle Rabbi, civil surgeon of Chattogram, said healthy people are not vulnerable to the disease.
Hailing from Patiya upazila of Chattogram, Ferdous Begum (60), was diagnosed with black fungus at Chattogram Medical College Hospital. But she is not getting proper treatment due to lack of a drug necessary for the treatment, say family members of the patient.
According to the family, the anti-fungal drug Liposomal Amphotericin B, which the doctors advised for the patient's treatment, is now in short supply in the local market. The family have tried to get the medicine for the last three days in Chattogram and Dhaka markets but in vain. They are now seeking assistance through media.
Asked, Dr Serajul said Amphotericin B is an essential drug to treat mucormycosis but it is not available in our local market.
"As the disease is a very rare one, local pharmaceutical companies are not interested to produce the drug," he said, adding, "It is also a very expensive drug."
So, the government should take initiative to manage the drug from local or overseas markets and supply those to the government hospitals so that underprivileged patients can avail it free of cost, said Dr Serajul.