Black fungus declared as epidemic in JK

Srinagar: The administration on Monday declared black fungus (Mucormycosis) an epidemic in the state.
A notification regarding the same was issued by Health and Medical Education Department of the Union Territory under Section 2 of the Epidemic Disease Act 1897.
This comes few days after the Centre directed all the states and UTs to make black fungus a notifiable disease.
According to the notification, all the government and private health facilities and medical colleges are required to follow the guidelines for screening, diagnosis and management of the disease issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and J&K government as amended from time to time.
The guidelines make it mandatory for all such facilities to report suspected and confirmed cases to the health department through district-level officers and Integrated Disease Surveillance Program (IDSP).
The notification further read, no person, institution or organisation will use any print, electronic or any other media for Mucormycosis without prior permission from Director Health Service Jammu/ Kashmir.
The DHS will constitute a committee headed by Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the concerned district, which will have specialist of internal Medicine, Ophthalmology, ENT and Epidemiologist as members to review any violations.
The violators will be punished under Section 188 of Indian Penal Code.
The UT reported its first death due to black fungus on Friday.
Meanwhile, experts in Karnataka will study whether the rise in the Mucormycosis cases is linked to use of industrial oxygen and its possible contamination.
Deputy Chief Minister C N Ashwath Narayan, who is also the head of the state’s COVID task force, held a meeting on Sunday with the treatment protocol committee where the possible sources of the infection were discussed.
Noting that the state has recorded about 700 cases of black fungus infections in the last week, he directed experts to find its source, with doubts being expressed about oxygen supply, quality of piping and cylinders used for it.
Accordingly, a team of microbiologists will start to work towards this from Monday, his office said in a release.
The country used to record about 100 cases of black fungus a year earlier but the state has recorded about 700 cases in the last week. This surge has been the cause of anxiety, Narayan was quoted as saying.
Also, black fungus cases are not spotted in other COVID hit countries, but they are occurring only in India, he said.
Dr Sampath Chandra Prasad Rao, skull surgeon, Manipal Hospital (Bengaluru) made the presentation about mucormycosis at the meeting and felt the probable reasons for the surge in black fungus may be contamination, either due to low-quality cylinders or low-quality piping system at the ICU level in hospitals.
It may also be caused because of contamination at the industry level from where the oxygen is being supplied or due to low standard of sterilization or any other such reasons.
Suspicion was raised that it may be due to usage of ordinary tap water in ventilators, Rao said.
“To meet the rise in demand, industrial oxygen is being procured in large quantity and questions have been emanated, about, whether the oxygen supplied from industries matches with the quality of medical oxygen or not. This could also be one of the reasons,” he said.
The Deputy Chief Minister asked the microbiologists to record the clinical history of the patient affected by mucormycosis and to do the data analytics.
Simultaneously, he has also instructed them to study the source of oxygen supply at the hospital, quality of piping and cylinders and quality of water used for ventilators, and also quality at the source point of supply at the industry/plant level. (with PTI inputs)

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