As “black fungus” or mucormycosis cases have been escalating in India amid the second wave of the pandemic, Jammu and Kashmir has joined the list of several states and UTs that have declared this rare fungal infection caused by a group of molds as a notifiable disease under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897.

Many patients infected with coronavirus in India, of late, found to have contracted the potentially fatal infection.

The J&K administration today declared black fungus an epidemic in the state. A notification regarding the same was issued by the Health and Medical Education Department of the Union Territory under Section 2 of the Epidemic Disease Act 1897.

This comes few days after the Central Government 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 the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the concerned district, which will have specialists of Internal Medicine, Ophthalmology, ENT and Epidemiologist as members to review any violations.

The violators will be punished under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code.

The UT reported its first death due to black fungus on Friday last week.

Black fungus or mucormycosis is caused by exposure to mucor mould which is commonly found in soil, plants, manure, and decaying fruits and vegetables.

Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has said that 55% of the black fungus patients had diabetes.

In a meeting with the 27th Group of Ministers, the health minister highlighted data on black fungus havoc in the country, he said, “5,424 cases of Mucormycosis reported in 18 States/UTs. Out of 5,424 cases, 4,556 patients have a history of Covid-19 infection. 55% of the patients had diabetes.”

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