Andhra's mysterious Uddanam kidney disease could be due to groundwater, says health minister
Roughly a month after promising a detailed probe into the mysterious kidney disease that prevails in the Uddanam area of Andhra's Srikakulam district, the state's Health Minister came up with some results.
Addressing media persons on Thursday, Kamineni Srinivas reportedly attributed the spread of the disease, to be the presence of Silica in groundwater.
The New Indian Express reported that nephrologists who toured the area collected 9,000 blood samples, and realised that it was too late for dialysis to cure several patients.
The experts suspect that mixing cashew nut shell powder with tea could be one of the reasons for the spreading of the disease, the report adds.
"In next 10 days, a team from Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will tour Visakhapatnam and Srikakulam districts to study the possibilities and sanction funds for establishing chronic kidney disease centres. Two more dialysis centres will be set up at Sompeta and Palasa in addition to the existing three chronic kidney disease centres at Srikakulam, Palakonda and Tekkali," Kamineni was quoted as saying.
The Uddanam region that lies in north-coastal Andhra consists of the mandals of Kaviti, Sompeta, Kanchili, Itchapuram, Palasa and Vajrapukotturu, accounting for more than 100 villages in total.
As of 2015, It was estimated that more than 4500 people had died in the last ten years, and around 34,000 people were suffering from kidney diseases in this area alone.
It was reported that each family in the area had at least one person suffering from a kidney ailment. The cases had first mysteriously surfaced in the early 90s.
Symptoms included hypertension and diabetes, followed by a long asymptomatic period, and later diagnosed with excess proteins in the urine, decreased red blood cell count and high levels of uric acid in the blood.
Though it has been close to twenty years since the first cases were reported, the cause of Uddanam Nephropathy is yet to be scientifically established. The disease is known to disproportionately affect farmers and agricultural workers.