Disease was first reported from Eluru, but has now reportedly spread to Denduluru.


NEW DELHI: A mysterious illness looming over Andhra Pradesh’s coastal town of Eluru has already led to the hospitalization of more than 600 people. According to the preliminary report of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), this illness is a case of “neuro-toxicity” caused by heavy metals like lead and nickel. The state health department officials have emphasized that this disease was neither a bacterial or viral infection nor a contagious disease. Two more people admitted with symptoms of the mystery disease died in Vijaywada late Wednesday night, taking the death toll to three. However, the doctors are saying the causes of death were different. The State Health Minister Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas told the media: “They were indeed admitted to the hospital with similar symptoms. However, doctors have confirmed that one of them, Subbaravamma, succumbed to Covid-19 and the other person Chandra Rao died of heart stroke.”

According to reports, the state health officials who are investigating the mysterious illness have said that excessive use of bleaching powder and chlorine, as part of coronavirus sanitation measures, may have caused the water contamination that made people take ill.

Most of the victims were in the 20-30 age group, while there were about 45 children below the age of 12 years.

Eluru government hospital superintendent A.V.R. Mohan told The Sunday Guardian before a meeting with Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy: “The current scenario is the number of in-patients is becoming lesser and lesser. Since last night, we got only two patients. Though overall numbers are more, they are not critical and they are recovering quickly. Even the follow-ups of the patients show they are fine. We have only 23 in-patients as of now. By evening there will some insight into the cause of this disease as we have a meeting with the CM today regarding this. We are expecting more results to come from AIIMS Delhi and other institutions and then we will know the probable cause of this disease. The magnitude of the problem is going down. For now, people need to take care of things they are consuming and we need to keep a watch on the food and water that we take.” The hospital superintendent also said so far, only one person died of the symptoms of the mysterious disease. Over the cause of the first casualty, Dr Mohan said: “It was not directly related to this disease as he had a fall in the toilet and subsequently, he died. We have conducted a post-mortem on this patient and we have sent viscera for analysis. So, once we get the results, we will be able to confirm the cause of death.”

Meanwhile, officials of the sanitation wing, food safety division, and drinking water supply department of Eluru municipality have been collecting samples from various localities like South Street, North Street, West Street, Arundhatipet, and Ashok Nagar areas to find out whether they have any contamination, as per reports. Health experts are also inspecting the affected areas to get a proper picture of the condition of the patients.

On 30 November, the first case of this mysterious illness came to light after a 13-year-old B. Venkata Ramakrishna suddenly suffered seizures and fell off his bed. A team of doctors examined him and conducted Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Electroencephalography (EEG) scan to diagnose his condition and the reports were normal. He was kept under observation for 24 hours by providing oxygen support. The doctors discharged him the next day and prescribed him medicines for seizures and vitamin capsules for the next 10 days.

People of the region are worried that more people may get sick. The symptoms of the disease include epilepsy, forgetfulness, anxiety, vomiting, headache and back pain. The disease was first reported from Eluru city, but has now reportedly spread in Denduluru. Meanwhile, the latest laboratory results show the presence of high residues of pesticides in drinking water samples. Doctors have said  the number of cases is now declining and the patients are recovering very quickly.