Lead and nickel content has been found in the blood samples of some patients sickened by a mysterious disease in Eluru, Andhra Pradesh, officials said on Tuesday. The illness has so far claimed one life and left over 500 people sick.
The preliminary findings of expert teams from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and other state and central institutions, submitted to the Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on Tuesday, revealed the presence of lead and nickel particulate matter in blood samples. However, no explanation was provided as to how the particulate matter ended up in blood streams. Moreover, since the government sent only a few samples for testing to AIIMS, more samples were sent on Tuesday, and a conclusion will be arrived upon only after those samples are tested.
Milk and drinking water samples in the region are also being tested for presence of the particulate matter.
The disease has seen people suddenly falling unconscious after suffering from epilepsy and nausea since Saturday night. Other symptoms of the illness include forgetfulness, backache and headache. The bout of epilepsy lasts for 3-5 minutes, but it does not recur, doctors had said earlier.
Besides, AIIMS, the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) also is doing a parallel investigation. The institute is yet to conclude its findings and determine the exact cause of the illness.
Following the AIIMS report, which showed that the affected had presence of lead and nickel, Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy directed authorities to conduct a thorough investigation to probe on how lead and nickel particles could have entered into the bodies of Eluru residents.
As per the latest health bulletin issued at 4 pm, 561 persons have been affected by the illness in which 81 of them are active patients. On Tuesday alone, 73 persons were admitted to the hospital. Authorities said that among the 561 patients, 450 of them were discharged
According to health authorities, of the 505 persons infected, over 370 had recovered and another 120 were being treated in the hospital.
To handle the crisis, besides medical experts deployed by the World Health Organisation, a four-member National Institute of Nutrition team, a joint-team from National Institute of Virology – Pune, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and AIIMS New Delhi have been deployed on Tuesday.
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 said.
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.
With PTI Inputs