Over 57 million Indians are affected by fungal infection: Study

Fungal infection is widespread in India, although it is still unclear how prevalent it is and how frequently it occurs.

Rachna Verma

Rachna Verma

The Statesman


representational image [Photo : iStock]

January 9, 2023

NEW DELHI – In India, major fungal illnesses impact over 5.7 crore people, 10 per cent of whom have potentially fatal mold infection, according to an analysis of more than 400 published research studies.

Researchers from the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, AIIMS, Kalyani in West Bengal, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh, and The University of Manchester in the United Kingdom estimate that 57,250,826 people or over 5.7 crore people s, in India are likely to be at risk.

Fungal infection is widespread in India, although it is still unclear how prevalent it is and how frequently it occurs. The incidence or effects of several fungal infections in the nation are being assessed for the first time in this study.

A research article in the journal Open Forum Infectious Diseases estimated that 2.4 crore women of reproductive age had vaginal thrush, also referred to as a vaginal yeast infection. Tinea capitis, a hair fungal disease, affected a comparable percentage of school-aged children. The study found that many patients experience painful, irritated scalps and hair loss as a result.

According to the research, lung and sinus infections caused by mold, which killed over 2,50,000 persons, were major causes of death. A specific type of mold caused 35 lakh people to get severe allergic pulmonary mold sickness, and another 17-lakh had chronic aspergillosis, an infection of the respiratory system. The disease known as ‘Black mold’ or mucormycosis, affected almost two lakh people. Over 10 lakh individuals are thought to suffer from a potentially blinding fungal eye disease.

The burden linked to fungi-related disorders is significant and yet unappreciated, according to the paper’s primary author Dr Animesh Ray, who is presently employed by the Department of Medicine at AIIMS Delhi.

Dr Ray claimed that the number of cases of fungal illnesses is several times higher than TB, which affects less than three million Indians annually. There is a substantial patient population with fungal illness in India, where the yearly incidence of TB is almost 10 times greater than the total burden of severe fungal diseases.

According to research, the fungus illness still poses a threat to public health and is a major cause of severe morbidity and mortality, placing a heavy financial burden on the people.

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