Infections Seen Among HIV Patients Hit Covid-19 Survivors
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Superinfections, which typically affect those with highly suppressed immune systems such as people living with HIV/AIDS or organ transplant patients, are increasingly seen in patients who have recovered from Covid-19. Notably, many are contracting these rare co-infections despite not being ‘bombed’ with steroids or treated for diabetes, underlining the possibility of Covid-19 itself causing massive immune weakening.

In a recent case, a 66-year-old patient was admitted to Lilavati Hospital with complaints of breathlessness and fever a week after he had recovered and got discharged. He came with completely white lungs as if his Covid was back. But after running investigations, it turned out to be a case of cytomegalovirus pneumonia (CMV) infection. “We normally see CMV in patients who have undergone solid organ or stem cell transplants. We were surprised to see it in Covid cases,” said infectious disease expert Dr Vasant Nagvekar.

Around six such cases of CMV, rarely seen in individuals with healthy immune systems, have been recorded among post-Covid patients in Mumbai. At least one has succumbed to it. Similarly, pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP), a serious fungal infection that causes inflammation and fluid build-up in lungs, has been seen in more than 6-7 post-Covid cases. Till now, PCP was usually seen in HIV/AIDS patients whose CD4 count had dropped below 200.

The fungal infection called mucormycosis that emerged as one of the major opportunistic infections is thus not the only one affecting patients, say doctors, who add that they are fighting a battery of other co-infections among Covid recovered patients, including Covid-19 Associated Pulmonary Aspergillosis (CAPA), herpes reactivation, bacterial infection multidrug-resistant pseudomonas and candida auris, an emerging fungus that’s considered a global threat.

Infectious disease expert Dr Om Srivastava said these co-infections must be documented like mucormycosis if their extent has to be gauged. “There is at least a 20% rise in co-infection incidences,” he added.

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