Fungal infection mimicking Spinal TB sound in 4 Covid-recovered patients in Pune, Maharashtra docs jittery
The discovery of a new post covid symptom among recovered patients in Pune in the last three months has raised serious concerns among the medical fraternity. The new cause of worry seems to be the detection of a fungal infection that has led to severe bone damage to the spinal-discs spaces of a patient.
The presence of this fungal infection came to the fore when a 66-year-old patient was found complaining of mild fever and severe lower back pain a month after recovering from Covid-19. Initially, the patient was treated with muscle relaxants and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs without relief.
A magnetic resonance imaging or MRI scan then revealed severe infection-led bone damage to the spinal-discs spaces called spondylodiscitis. Medically termed as aspergillus osteomyelitis, the invasive fungal infection was found to be difficult to diagnose as it mimics spinal tuberculosis (TB). Such fungal infection has been detected in mouth cavities of Covid-recovered patients, and, in rare cases, in lungs.
Deliberating on the issue, Mangeshkar hospital infectious diseases expert Parikshit Prayag told TOI that so far vertebral osteomyelitis caused by aspergillus fungi species has been diagnosed in four patients in three months. Prior to this, vertebral osteomyelitis had not been documented in post-Covid patients in India, he added.
The common thread found in all four was that they had severe Covid and were treated with steroids to get over Covid-linked pneumonia and related complications. The expert contended that long-term use of corticosteroids may increase the risk of opportunistic infections, depending on the underlying disease being treated and what other drugs are being used.
Another rare yet critical fungal infection caused by a group of molds known as mucormycetes called mucormycosis has also been widely reported in recovered patients across India. These molds are present naturally in the environment. However, it affects humans when the body’s immunity system has been weakened and it is vulnerable. It affects the lungs and the sinuses following inhalation of fungal spores from the air. The fungus can also enter the body through open wounds or cuts. This infection is also said to be caused due to the long-term use of corticosteroids.