It’s been nearly three days since 340 people in Andhra Pradesh’s Eluru district fell sick due to a mysterious illness and the government is still grappling for answers. Even as doctors are trying to understand what must have caused the illness, one person succumbed to the illness on Monday, while 157 people continue to be hospitalized in Eluru district, of which 14 people are critical. The deceased has been identified as Sridhar.
All patients were identified with symptoms of epilepsy, forgetfulness, anxiety, vomiting, headache and back pain, authorities said. The doctors also noted that the epileptic episode was only once.
As the reason behind the mysterious illness continues to elude authorities, 57,863 families in the district have been surveyed, in which 191 of them were detected with illness and were rushed to the government hospital. Another aspect which worries the authorities, is that people from the neighbouring areas of Eluru, are also starting to show symptoms. The Chief Minister’s office on Monday said that out of the 340 patients, 307 of them belonged to Eluru urban, 30 from Eluru rural and three from Denduluru.
Speaking to TNM, the Medical Superintendent of AIIMS Mangalagiri said that the investigation is still underway and have not identified the cause of the illness yet. The Eluru Government Hospital had sent samples to AIIMS Mangalagiri institute to conduct a medical investigation and find out the reason behind the illness.
Meanwhile, the drinking water sample reports taken from the affected areas ruled out the suspicion of water contamination as the results were “normal”, said the CMO. Authorities had taken 22 water samples.
It’s also been found that the illness did not spread from one person to the other. Another significant observation the authorities have made is: people from other areas, where Eluru Municipality water was not distributed also fell ill, and those consuming mineral water also got sick. In each household, one or two persons fell ill.
Test results of blood samples taken from 52 persons were normal, too. Cerebral spinal fluid samples taken from 35 persons showed that the cell count was normal. Even the tests on nine milk sample results proved there was no contamination. Ten samples were sent to the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad for cellular and molecular analysis.
To handle the crisis, 56 doctors, including specialists, 3 microbiologists, 136 nurses and other staff have been deputed to the district. Twenty ambulances were deployed and 62 medical camps have been set up. A total of 445 beds have been arranged in four hospitals, including in Government Hospital, Eluru. In Eluru GH, 50 additional beds were arranged along with 12 doctors, 4 ambulances, 36 nursing staff were monitoring the situation.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy visited the patients availing treatment in Eluru GH. Assuring them help, the Chief Minister spoke with the patients and enquired about their health. The patients recounted the ordeal they went through and the symptoms of the illness before they fell sick.
The Chief Minister is expected to convene a meeting in this regard with the officials.