Black fungus declared a notifiable disease in Telangana as cases skyrocket

Published : May 20, 2021 20:33 IST

The Government ENT Hospital at Koti in Hyderabad is the designated hospital for treatment of Mucormycosis or Black Fungus . Photo: NAGARA GOPAL

With the number of mucormycosis cases climbing sharply in recent days, the Telangana government on May 20 declared the dreaded fungal infection, which is also known as black fungus, as a notifiable disease under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. A notification to the effect was issued by the Director of Public Health and Family Welfare. Telangana is the second State, after Rajasthan to declare the fungal infection a notifiable disease.

As per the notification, all government and private health facilities shall strictly follow the guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Indian Council of Medical Research when screening, diagnosing, and managing mucormycosis cases. Further, under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, it is mandatory for all government and private health facilities to report, daily, all suspected and confirmed cases of mucormycosis to the health department.

The K. Chandrashekar Rao government has said the government-run ENT Hospital at Koti in Hyderabad will be the designated hospital to treat mucormycosis cases. The announcement came a day after K. Ramesh Reddy, Director of Medical Education, said there were around 50 mucormycosis cases at government hospitals and another 30 to 40 cases in private hospitals. However, several doctors in Telangana speaking to Frontline, said that over the past three days they were seeing 10 to 12 patients every day with the infection.

Advising people not to panic, Ramesh Reddy said mucormycosis was not contagious. “Patients must look out for symptoms such as facial muscle pain, bloody discharge from nose, cold, and brown discoloration or spores in mucus,” he said.

The government’s decision comes just days after the State witnessed an acute shortage of Liposomal Amphotericin B, the drug that is used to treat the infection. On May 19, the Hyderabad Police said five medical practitioners had been arrested on the charge of procuring and selling 50 mg vials of Amphotericin B at Rs.50,000 a vial, when the maximum retail price is around Rs.315. The government was forced to regulate sale of the drug, making approval by a government committee headed by the Director of Medical Education essential for purchase of the injection. The drug can now only be sold to hospitals and that, too, only after it is duly recommended by the government panel.