Over 5.7 Crore Indians Suffer from Serious Fungal Diseases: Study
New Delhi (PTI): Over 5.7 crore Indians suffer from serious fungal infections, 10 per cent of whom suffer from deadly mold infections, according to a review of over 400 published research papers.
Fungal disease is common in India, but its incidence and prevalence are unclear. This review first defined the frequency or burden of various fungal infections in the country.
Researchers at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, AIIMS Kalyani in West Bengal and PGIMER in Chandigarh, University of Manchester, UK, estimated that 57,250,826 (over 5.7 crore) — or 4.4 percent of India’s population — are likely to be affected.
“The total burden of fungal diseases is huge, but underappreciated,” said Animesh Ray of AIIMS Delhi, lead author of the paper.
“TB affects less than three million people a year in India, but the number of Indians infected with the fungal disease is many times higher,” Ray said.
A study published in the journal Open Forum Infectious Diseases found that vaginal thrush — or yeast infection of the vagina — affects about 2.4 crore women of reproductive age with repeated attacks.
A hair fungal infection — known as tinea capitis — affected a similar number of school-aged children. This causes a painful itchy scalp and hair loss in many people, according to the study.
Mold infections of the lungs and sinuses are a major contributor to death, affecting 250,000 (2.5 lakh) people, the researchers said.
Another 1,738,400 (over 17 lakh) people have chronic aspergillosis — an infection of the respiratory tract caused by a type of mold — and 3.5 lakh have severe allergic pulmonary mold disease, they said.
More than 10 lakh people are thought to have blinding fungal eye disease, and nearly two lakh people have mucormycosis, also known as “black mold”, the review showed.
The total burden of serious fungal infections is 10 times higher than the annual incidence of tuberculosis in India, indicating an enormous population of patients suffering from fungal infections, the researchers said.
Professor David Denning of the University of Manchester and Global Action on Fungal Diseases noted that there have been major diagnostic improvements in recent years, with public health services in India catching up with private hospitals in terms of capacity.
“Nevertheless, fungal disease continues to pose a threat to public health and is a cause of significant morbidity and mortality, representing a substantial socioeconomic burden to those who suffer from it,” Denning said.
“There are large parts of India with limited diagnostic capacity, as evidenced by our inability to assess some important diseases such as histoplasmosis and fungal asthma in children,” he added.