Mucor in a Viral Land: A Tale of Two Pathogens

Indian J Ophthalmol. 2021 Feb;69(2):244-252. doi: 10.4103/ijo.IJO_3774_20.

ABSTRACT

PURPOSE: COVID-19 infection, its treatment, resultant immunosuppression, and pre-existing comorbidities have made patients vulnerable to secondary infections including mucormycosis. It is important to understand the presentation, temporal sequence, risk factors, and outcomes to undertake measures for prevention and treatment.

METHODS: We conducted a retrospective, interventional study on six consecutive patients with COVID-19 who developed rhino-orbital mucormycosis and were managed at two tertiary ophthalmic referral centers in India between August 1 and December 15, 2020. Diagnosis of mucormycosis was based on clinical features, culture, and histopathology from sinus biopsy. Patients were treated with intravenous liposomal amphotericin B with addition of posaconazole and surgical debridement of necrotic tissue.

RESULTS: All patients were male, mean age 60.5 ± 12 (46.2-73.9) years, type 2 diabetics with mean blood glucose level of 222.5 ± 144.4 (86-404) mg/dL. Except for one patient who was diagnosed with mucormycosis concurrently with COVID-19, all patients received systemic corticosteroids for the treatment of COVID-19. The mean duration between diagnosis of COVID-19 and development of symptoms of mucor was 15.6 ± 9.6 (3-42) days. All patients underwent endoscopic sinus debridement, whereas two patients required orbital exenteration. At the last follow-up, all six patients were alive, on antifungal therapy.

CONCLUSION: Mucormycosis is a life-threatening, opportunistic infection, and patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 are more susceptible to it. Uncontrolled diabetes mellitus and use of corticosteroids increase the risk of invasive fungal infection with mucormycosis which can develop during the course of the illness or as a sequelae. High index of suspicion, early diagnosis, and appropriate management can improve survival.

PMID:33463566 | DOI:10.4103/ijo.IJO_3774_20