Eluru Mystery Illness: Chemical Residues Found In Rice And Vegetables

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oi-Amritha K

on December 12, 2020

Update (12 Dec): After a week of reporting the sickness, dubbed as the Eluru Mystery Illness, experts found aces of mercury in rice and pesticides and herbicide residues in excess quantities in vegetables. Residues of organophosphorus (organic compounds containing phosphorus used in pesticides) in blood was also found.

According to the most recent reports from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, traces of lead and nickel were found in some blood samples. The officials added that “the sample size that we sent to AIIMS was small, but their report indicates the presence of heavy metals like lead and nickel. We have sent more samples and the reports are awaited.” Health officials suspect food or water contamination.

A multi-disciplinary team from the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad, comprising public health experts, epidemiologists, microbiologists, and food safety experts is collecting samples of water, edible oil, and rice.

The experts also said that “What is worrying is that the illness is not confined to a particular area. If it was water or air-borne, people in a particular area would be affected. However, almost the entire Eluru is affected in this case. In most cases, only one member of the family was affected, which is also puzzling.”

On the night of 5 December, Saturday, Eluru city in Andhra Pradesh witnessed the spread of a mysterious disease, which resulted in the death of 45-year-old man, and around 227 people, including 46 children and 76 women, were hospitalised since Saturday [1].

What Do We Know About The Mystery Disease?

According to reports, these are the current findings of the disease that has killed one.

• The disease has symptoms resembling epilepsy and dizziness.

• The victims were reported to have sudden collapses, frothing at mouth and shivering.

• Most of the affected people were elderly and children.

• Health experts are investigating possible reasons such as chemical gas leak to water pollution to a virus as the possible cause for this disease.

• Milk samples were also collected at random and sent for examination.

• All the patients were tested for COVID-19 and all reports were reportedly negative [2].

• Blood samples of the patients have been sent to the lab and no viral infections are detected.

• Blood tests and CT (brain) scans have not revealed any cause for the disease.

• Cerebral Spinal Fluid tests also turned out to be normal.

• Authorities have ruled out air and water pollution based on the initial assessment.

• Majority of the people who suffered the sickness had recovered within a few minutes but at least seven persons were shifted for further treatment.

• More than 125 of those who were hospitalised on Saturday night were discharged on Sunday after they seemingly recovered.

• The probable cause could become evident only after the culture test results came in [3].

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What Is The Govt. Doing To Understand The Situation?

Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, the emergence of an unknown disease has indeed elevated the fear amidst the public, however, the Andhra Pradesh govt. has several steps to further understand the disease and spread awareness.

• Medical camps and other facilities have been set up to provide treatment to the patients.

• A 24×7 control room has been set up in the Eluru Municipal Corporation office.

• Door to door survey is being conducted to monitor the health condition of the people.

• Health authorities have been asked to ensure availability of emergency medicines to deal with any situation.

• Experts from the National Institute of Nutrition and Indian Institute of Chemical Technology from Hyderabad will be arriving today in Eluru, for diagnosing the cause of the disease.

On A Final Note…

Medical and health experts have been rushed to the region on Sunday. Deputy Chief Minister and Health Minister Alla Krishna Srinivas alias Nani assured that the situation is under control. Officials have declared a health emergency in Eluru city.


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