J&K Govt declares Black Fungus as an epidemic disease

A doctor checks a man who was infected with black fungus. File | Photo Credit: AP

Srinagar May 24: The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Monday declared black fungus or ‘Mucormycosis’ an epidemic disease under the Epidemic Diseases Act- 1897 in the Union Territory.


The order by the J&K administration comes days after the Union Territory reported its first death due to black fungus on Friday, when a 40-year-old Covid-19 recovered patient died of mucormycosis at Government Medical College (GMC), Jammu.


The Jammu and Kashmir administration also extended the COVID curfew, which was supposed to end on Monday, by another week till May 31 in all 20 districts of the Union Territory amid no letup in the number of fresh coronavirus cases and deaths.


“In exercise of the powers conferred by sector 2 of the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 (Act no 3 of 1897), the Lt Governor of the Union Territory of J&K hereby notify Mucormycosis as an epidemic,” read an order issued by Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education Department , Atal Dulloo.


The order further said that all the government and private health facilities, medical colleges will follow the guidelines for screening, diagnosis, management of Mucormycosis, issued by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, government of J&K as amended from time to time and make it mandatory for all these facilities to report suspected ad confirmed cases to Health Department through District Level Chief Medical Officers and Integrated Disease Surveillance Program (IDSP).


“No person, institution or organization will spread any information or material for management of Mucormycosis without prior permission from Director Health Services, Jammu/Kashmir,” it added.


It further said that no person, institution or organization will use any print, electronic or any other form of media for Mucormycosis without prior permission from Director Health Services Jammu/Kashmir.


“The Director Health services Jammu/Kashmir will constitute a District Committee headed by Chief Medical Officer of the concerned district to review any disobeying by the person, institute or organization,” the order said.


Meanwhile, reassuring people that there is no need to worry as Mucormycosis or black fungus is neither a new disease nor contagious, Medical Superintendent Chest Disease (CD) Hospital Dr Naveed Nazir Shah on Sunday said people need to avoid self medication, identity high risk patients and keep blood sugar under control.


“Mucormycosis is not a new disease and neither it is contagious. We just need to avoid self medication like steroids, identify high risk patients and keep blood sugar under control,” Dr Naveed said.


He said as per Head of the Department (HoD) Oral and Maxillofacial surgery GDC Srinagar they have already successfully operated one case of Mucormycosis in November 2020 and another strong suspect case admitted with them. “Both post COVID and diabetics,” he added.


The Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Saturday warned against the irrational use of steroids in Covid-19 patients as this could trigger deadly black fungal infection.

“Indiscriminate use of steroids can trigger deadly black fungal infection, called mucormycosis which has reached to epidemic proportions in several states of the country,” said DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan said.


Dr Hassan said steroids are life-saving drugs in severe Covid patients who have respiratory distress or need oxygen or ventilation. However, he said they are not indicated for those patients who are not having respiratory distress and are not having any kind of need for oxygen.


He said Recovery trial in the UK showed that steroids reduce the mortality in severe Covid-19 patients. But they increase the mortality when given to patients with mild disease. “We are seeing steroids being prescribed to patients with mild COVID disease,” Dr Hassan said, adding people are using steroids on their own when they do not need them. (AGENCY)