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Andhra’s ‘mystery illness’ caused by nickel and lead

Disease claims one life, leaves over 500 sick until Tuesday
A woman showing symptoms of epilepsy being carried to a hospital in Eluru town on Sunday night.
A woman showing symptoms of epilepsy being carried to a hospital in Eluru town on Sunday night.

Our Bureau, Agencies   |   Hyderabad   |   Published 08.12.20, 05:57 PM

Presence of lead and nickel in drinking water and milk has been primarily established as the root cause of the mysterious sickness among people in Eluru city of Andhra Pradesh, which has till now claimed one life and left over 500 ill.

Based on the preliminary findings of the expert teams from AIIMS and other state and central institutions, health officials presented a report to Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy in Eluru on Tuesday.

A release from the Chief Minister’s Office, citing the report, said that lead and nickel were the causatives of the unknown disease.

Since Saturday night, people in the city were seen fainting suddenly, after suffering from fits and nausea.

The symptoms, according to GGH doctors, included a bout of epilepsy for 3-5 minutes, memory loss for a few minutes, anxiety, vomiting, headache and back pain.

“More tests are being conducted by Indian Institute of Chemical Technology and other institutes and the results are expected soon,” the CMO release said.

“The Chief Minister directed the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation on the heavy metal content in the patients bodies and constantly monitor the treatment process,” it added.

According to health authorities, out of the 505 people affected, 370 had recovered. Another 120 were being treated at the hospital.

Nineteen more people were admitted to government hospitals in Vijayawada and Guntur for better treatment.

Apart from experts deployed by the World Health Organisation, a three-member team drafted by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare arrived in Eluru on Tuesday and went round the affected areas to collect samples.

Deputy Chief Minister (Health) A K K Srinivas said the affected people were recovering well and there was no need to panic.

“Full details as to what triggered the mysterious disease will be known only after the central agencies submit their reports. Primarily, lead has been found to be the cause of the outbreak,” he informed.

A special sanitation drive was undertaken in Eluru city and also in the adjoining rural pockets and Denduluru from where the cases were reported.

Srinivas, who represents Eluru, went round the localities on Tuesday and inspected the overhead drinking water reservoirs and supervised the sanitation drive.

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