- Vertebral Osteomyelitis, damaging the bone of the spinal discs spaces concerns health fraternity
- 4 post-covid patients report symptoms of mild fever and dreadful lower backache
- Infectious disease expert, Dr. Prayag hints at risks of potential infections on account of prolonged usage of corticosteroids.
Coronavirus has been haunting people globally for almost 2 years now. Patients with Covid-19 developed pneumonia and were treated with steroids, which was a major cause of bacterial and fungal infections like the Black Fungus (Mucormycosis). AIIMS director, Randeep Guleria, has issued statements earlier stating overuse of steroids as the primary reinforcer of fungal infections that are spiking up the mortality rates.
Adherence to infection control protocols has been stressed upon by Dr. Guleria in the past. “Doing so would minimize the risk of secondary bacterial infections”, he added. A new infection has been identified lately, in 4 Covid recovered patients in Pune, Maharashtra. This infection that primarily targets the bones of the spinal disc spaces is concerning as it resembles spinal tuberculosis. It has been identified as “spondylodiscitis”. Spondylodiscitis is characterized by primary and secondary infections of the intervertebral discs (discitis) and the vertebrae starting with endplates, respectively.
This infection came to the forefront when a covid recovered patient, Prabhakar (aged 66), had complaints of mild fever and excruciating lower back pain. In response to this, as the primary course of treatment, he was administered muscle relaxants and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The pain, however, did not subside. Later, an MRI scan unveiled severe bone damage to the spinal disc spaces and was medically termed as aspergillus osteomyelitis. This fungal infection bears a close resemblance to spinal tuberculosis. Similar infections have been detected in the past, with the mouth cavities and lungs of covid recovered patients.
Parikshit Prayag from Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital, Pune, who is an infectious diseases expert, remarked “the vertebral osteomyelitis caused by aspergillus fungi species has been detected in 4 patients in the three months. No case of vertebral osteomyelitis in post-covid patients had been reported in the past.”
What was common in all of the four covid recovered patients affected with osteomyelitis of the spine, was that all of them had been afflicted with severe covid in the past involving steroid medication for managing covid-related pneumonia and consequent complications. Dr. Prayag, also concluded that prolonged usage of corticosteroids magnifies the risk of potential infections depending on the disease being treated at hand along with others. He indicated that all four patients diagnosed with aspergillus vertebral osteomyelitis, including the first one, whose case was reported three months ago, are all being treated at the moment.
Another condition, called mucormycosis, induced by a group of molds that are naturally present in the environment and are termed as mucormycetes had also been evident in patients recovered from covid. The fungal spores usually find their way into the human’s body through nasal passages, open cuts, or wounds and cause the infection. This has also been linked to excessive usage of corticosteroids in covid patients. This condition affected the larynx of the infected individuals making it more vulnerable to infections and congestion. It is usually set in the initial week of covid or by the third week and can continue to affect the person for 3 months.