A woman showing symptoms of epilepsy being taken to a hospital in Eluru town of West Godavari district on December 6.(PTI)
A woman showing symptoms of epilepsy being taken to a hospital in Eluru town of West Godavari district on December 6.(PTI)

Mystery illness in Eluru: More test results awaited to confirm what caused metal poisoning

AIIMS, Mangalgiri and Delhi, Hyderabad’s National Institute of Nutrition and Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology are conducting more tests to zero in on the cause of the poisoning.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON DEC 09, 2020 04:40 PM IST

The mystery illness of Eluru which has killed one and sickened over 500 in Andhra Pradesh in a short span of time has grabbed the attention of international media, while it is not yet clear how metal poisoning took place. The All India Institute of Medical Sciences authorities, Mangalgiri, in its preliminary investigation, found that it was a case of neuro-toxicity caused by heavy metals like lead and nickel.

Here is what happened so far:

> The first case of this strange illness with symptoms like seizure, giddiness, froth in mouth was recorded on December 5.

> Within 24 hours, hundreds of people belonging to different parts of Eluru reported same symptoms and were all hospitalised.

> The symptoms stayed for 10 to 15 minutes, though a 45-year-old man died on December 6.

> According to some reports, a few cases of relapse have also been noticed. However, the number of overall cases reduced.

> Is it a case of water pollution? Scientists, health officials, municipal and revenue department officials have been roped in to track whether the metal poisoning has been caused by drinking water. Contamination of water by pesticides has not been ruled out yet.

> Hyderabad’s National Institute of Nutrition has also collected samples of water, milk, rice and vegetables from the affected persons. Biological samples have also been collected from areas where people suffered these symptoms. It will submit the report this week.

> AIIMS, Mangalgiri will also submit its final report by this week.

> AIIMS, New Delhi is examining how heavy metals crept in.

> A team of World Health Organisation also took stock of the situation.

> A team of the Union health ministry also collected samples.

> Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology has sought stool and bile samples of the victims for a viral and bacteriological analysis.

> In regard to this strange illness, two terms are being used: Neurotoxins and organochlorines. Lead, ethanol are neurotoxins that are destructive to nerve tissue when abnormally contacted. Organochlorines are used as pesticides.

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