Why in News:
- The Union government has asked the States to declare mucormycosis, the fungal infection being reported in COVID-19 patients, an epidemic.
What is Mucormycosis?
- Mucormycosis or black fungus is an aggressive and invasive fungal infection caused by a group of molds called mucormycetes.
- Most people come in contact with microscopic fungal spores every day, so it’s probably impossible to completely avoid coming in contact with mucormycetes. These fungi aren’t harmful to most people.
- It can affect various organs but is currently manifesting as an invasive rhino-orbito-cerebral disease, affecting the ear, nose, throat, and mouth. It is not contagious but can cause a lot of damage internally and can be fatal if not detected early.
- The types of Mucormycosis are: Rhinocerebral (Sinus and Brain), Pulmonary (Lung), Gastrointestinal, Cutaneous (Skin), and disseminated Mucormycosis.
- It occurs through inhalation, inoculation, or ingestion of spores from the environment.
- Mucormycosis does not spread between people or between people and animals.
- The common name ‘black fungus’ is in reference to the blackening that is characteristic of the disease.
What are the symptoms?
- One-sided facial swelling and numbness, headache, nasal or sinus congestion, black lesions on nasal bridge or upper inside of the mouth, fever, abdominal pain, nausea and gastrointestinal bleeding.
Causes of Mucormycosis
- For people who have weakened immune systems, breathing in mucormycete spores can cause an infection in the lungs or sinuses which can spread to other parts of the body.
- Steroids reduce inflammation in the lungs for Covid-19 and appear to help stop some of the damage that can happen when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive to fight off coronavirus. But they also reduce immunity and push up blood sugar levels in both diabetics and non-diabetic Covid-19 patients, resulting in an increased chance of getting Mucormycosis.
What is an epidemic?
- An epidemic is a disease that affects a large number of people within a community, population, or region.
Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897
- Enacted by the British, for the first time in the then state of Bombay during the Bubonic Plague.
- The Act strives to protect the common citizens in a particular area during the outbreak of an epidemic of a dangerous disease.
- The law is meant for containment of epidemics by providing special powers that are required for the implementation of containment measures to control the spread of the disease.
Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP)
- Launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in assistance with the World Bank in 2004.
- The scheme is aimed to strengthen disease surveillance for infectious diseases to detect and respond to outbreaks immediately.
- To read more about IDSP: https://officerspulse.com/integrated-disease-surveillance-program/
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