C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Fungal infections can be ‘fatal’
Monica Sharma
Fungi causes infection of skin, eye, blood and other organs. The symptoms include chronic cough. It is also manifested in patients suffering from fever without clinical reason. In Europe and the USA, about 13 per cent of the total population is suffering from infection of toes and nails.

Fungal infections can prove to be fatal if not diagnosed early. In fact, up to 7 per cent of the patients dying in tertiary care centres suffer from fungus infection known as “aspergillosis”. Early diagnosis and therapy can make a difference. But there are not many centres in the country for diagnosing fungal infections.

Cases of ringworm infection are highest in India. Over 30 per cent of the population is suffering from it, says a consultant with Centres for Disease Control (CDC) at Atlanta, Dr A. Padhye.

Dr Padhye, who was in Chandigarh to attend the fifth National Conference of the Society for Indian Human and Animal Mycologists, adds that in India there are just four to five well-equipped centres, including the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) here. But every state should have a microbiologist for dealing with fungal infections. In UK there are only three reference centres. “But then there are 20 hospitals also with diagnostic fungal laboratories”, he reveals.

Giving details, the doctor asserts that there has been a significant increase of “opportunist fungal infections” during the past decade as the population of patients with low immunity continues to grow in India. They are the ones suffering from AIDS and cancer and even those who have undergone organ transplant operations.

“In such patients, these infections do prove fatal if early diagnosis and therapy is not instituted,” he asserts. “As such awareness and high index of suspicion is required to make a prompt diagnosis of these fungal infections”.

He adds that the immune system gets disturbed due to virus, making a person susceptible to all kinds of infection in the process. “Over six million people are HIV positive in the country and may develop AIDS. Such patients can catch fungal infections like “candidos” and “cryptococcosis” resulting in fatality.

In charge of Finland's University of Helsinki's Department of Mycology, Dr M.Richardson, said in the majority of cases you catch fungal infections through the process of inhalation. You can also catch the infection from animals, including dogs and cats. Sometimes you can get infected through the soil.

Regarding remedy, the doctor says that anti-fungal antibiotics are prescribed to the patients. As diagnosis is very difficult, medicines, most of the times, are prescribed on the basis of clinical evidence.

“By using different creams, some of the fungal infections may disappear for awhile, but can surface again,” the doctor adds. “Amphotericin is a toxic antibiotic. Its administration should be monitored. Others medicines include ifraconazole and voriconazole. Caspofungin is quite expensive. It may cause $ 1,000 a day.”


Experts discuss fungal eye infections
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 13
“In India nearly 30 to 35 per cent of all culture positive infectious keratitis cases are of fungal origin, which leads to ocular morbidity and blindness", Dr Niranjan Naik from AIIMS, New Delhi, said.

He was delivering a lecture at the ongoing National Conference of the Society for Indian Human and Animal Mycologists at the PGI, here today. Dr Malik stressed on the importance of proper collection and transport of clinical specimens for accurate diagnosis of fungal eye infections.

Various experts delivered their presentations during a symposium on "Epidemiology of fungal diseases and diagnosis of deep-seated fungal infections".

Prof Pankajalakshmi from Chennai spoke on the epidemiology of mycetoma in India. She said,"Actinomycotic mycetoma is commonly encountered in the northern and southern parts of India. With the improvement in the general standards of the living conditions, mycetoma may disappear altogether from the country".

Giving details about the situation of fungal diseases in Sri Lanka, Dr Maya Attapattu, mycologists in charge at Colombo, said, "Majority of the fungal infections in the country are due to candida spp and dermatophytes with increase of non-albicans candida in the recent years which causes respiratory and urinary tract infections”.

Dr Ariya Chindamporn from Thailand, Dr Mary S. Matthews from Vellore, Dr Ashim Das from PGI, the Head of the Department of Dermatology in the PGI, Prof Bhushan Kumar, Dr Sentamil Selvi from Chennai, Prof H.C. Randhawa from New Delhi, and Dr Jayshree from Bangalore, spoke on the subject.

Two scientific papers titled "A meaningful drug sensitivity test for actinomycetoma isolates" and "Mucormycosis— a clinicopathological study" were presented for the Kamalam Glaxo Award.Different scientific papers were presented in the free oral paper presentation session.


Parking attendants’ plea to PGI chief
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 13
In a letter to the Director of Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), “parking attendants” working on contract basis have complained about the payment of “less monthly salary”, besides other problems. A copy of the letter has also been sent to the UT Labour Commissioner.

They have added that the employees were being paid Rs 1500 per month which was quite less. They further alleged that the attendants were being made to work beyond their normal duty hours ranging from 12 to 15 hours without any break or weekly off.

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