Apart from the existing contributing factors like steroids, compromised immunity, uncontrolled diabetes and excessive use of antibiotics, researchers are now also linking the excessive use of zinc supplements to mucormycosis.
Hyderabad: The rise in infections of mucormycosis (black fungus), the fungal disease among Covid patients that has recently been declared an epidemic and a notifiable disease, has fuelled the need among researchers and doctors to understand the contributing factors behind such a large increase in cases.
Apart from the existing contributing factors like steroids, compromised immunity, uncontrolled diabetes and excessive use of antibiotics, researchers are now also linking the excessive use of zinc supplements to mucormycosis. It is a fact that since the Covid pandemic, zinc tablets are prescribed in a big way as supplements to improve immunity.
While there is no proven clinical data, researchers, nevertheless, point out that zinc could cause fungal infections and there is a need for more exploration.
Recently, in a series of tweets, Dr Rajeev Jayadevan, scientific advisor and former president of the Indian Medical Association, provided existing research data linking zinc with the fungal disease.
“Fungi feed on zinc and mammalian cells try to escape fungal invasion by ‘starving’ the fungus by hiding zinc. These self-defence processes against fungi are known as nutritional immunity. The sudden appearance of serious cases of mucormycosis during the pandemic necessitates a wide search for contributing factors. There is a need to explore zinc supplements and their role in this fungal ailment,” he had said.
Another senior paediatrician from Karnataka Dr Vikram Sakleshpur Kumar said inadvertent pumping of too much zinc could be a contributing factor to mucormycosis apart from other risk factors. “There is quite a lot of important evidence pointing towards inadvertent usage of zinc and its contribution to mucormycosis. There is a definite need for the ICMR and the MOHFW to probe further and till then stop blanket administration of zinc to all,” he tweeted.
Dr Vincent Raj Kumar, editor of Blood Cancer Journal and Professor in Mayo Clinic, tweeted there could be many theories for the high incidence of mucormycosis. “There is a need to fix what’s in our control, which is to avoid steroids, use them at the right dose and duration, control sugar and avoid antibiotics. It will take time to investigate other additional factors and to see if they can be fixed. If someone is urgently in need of oxygen now, you have to give whatever oxygen is available. No choice. But you could control sugars and use steroids at the right dose for the right duration,” he pointed out in tweets.