Eluru mystery illness: Officials deny news of two more persons dying

On Thursday, a few news outlets had reported that two more persons succumbed to the mysterious illness that afflicted the Eluru region in Andhra Pradesh.
Eluru illness patients
Eluru illness patients

Creating further paranoia, a few news outlets on Thursday reported that two more persons succumbed to the mysterious illness that afflicted the Eluru region in Andhra Pradesh. However, authorities denied the news and said that the deaths were unrelated. Officials said that the death toll due to the illness stands at one. 

On Thursday, it was reported that a woman, who had COVID-19, and another man with respiratory problems, lost their lives due to the illness in Vijayawada Government Hospital. Denying the news, the Vijayawada GH Superintendent’s office told TNM that both the deaths were not related to the Eluru incident. They said that the woman who died was from a different region. 

West Godavari Health Commissioner, Katamaneni Bhaskar also issued a clarification regarding the incident and said that the news was false. 

Meanwhile, officials are still clueless about what caused the illness and how heavy metal substances like lead and nickel entered the bodies of the Eluru residents. Over 500 persons have been affected with the yet-to-be-identified illness. Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy held yet another review meeting on Thursday with district officials regarding the health crisis prevailing in Eluru. No update about this meeting has been shared with the media. 

In the previous meeting, the Chief Minister had asked the officials to identify the root cause of the illness. In the same meeting, officials ruled out the possibility of lead and nickel poisoning through air and water. As Eluru is not an industrial area emitting gases, pollution through air was ruled out. Similarly, the water test results of Eluru municipality were normal. 

Suspecting that the poisoning could have happened through vegetables, fruits and milk, samples of these items from the region have been collected for examination. Several science institutes like All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, National Institute for Nutrition, Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, have been conducting research on this. AIIMS is conducting tests on blood, water and milk samples, CCMB is engaged in testing samples for pathogens while the NIN is carrying out tests of urine, blood, water, vegetables, fruits and other edible items for traces of heavy metals and pesticides. On Tuesday, authorities had sent 40 additional samples for testing. A two-member WHO team is also working to resolve the issue.

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