Authorities have said that samples will be tested from around 600 villages around Eluru canal to understand the causes and decide on long term measures.

A man in Pulla being examined by doctors while lying on a hospital bed
news Health Friday, January 22, 2021 - 18:24

In yet another village in West Godavari, residents are reporting to suffer from symptoms similar to the mysterious illness that surfaced in early December in nearby Eluru in Andhra Pradesh. At least 22 persons in Komirepalle village of Denduluru Assembly constituency have reported symptoms like seizures, falling unconscious and foaming at the mouth. Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary Aditya Nath Das said that the affected persons include 14 men and eight women. Ten of the affected persons are of ages 12 to 35, while 12 of them are above 35 years of age. 

In the past week, in two settlements in the nearby Pulla village in Bhimadole mandal, at least 29 persons have been affected with similar symptoms. However, authorities have said that all the patients have recovered, and no new cases have surfaced in the past two days. CS Aditya Nath Das said that the mysterious illness has been surfacing in villages surrounding Eluru. “The health department is taking this seriously, health teams have come here for surveillance. Samples have been collected, but preliminary water sample results didn't show much. Food samples, and affected peoples’ samples were also taken for analysis,” he said. 

Read: Andhra's West Godavari records 29 cases of mystery illness

Authorities said that 14 of the affected people from Komirepalli are admitted in an Eluru hospital, while five persons have been discharged and sent home. In most cases, people are losing consciousness for a brief period, and are recovering after being given saline, they said. 

West Godavari district collector Mutyala Raju Revu said that the Pulla water sample test results showed particles within desirable limits. “Rice, vegetables, pulses, eggs and meat sample test results are yet to come. From the affected villages, water, cooked food, vegetables, pork, chicken, mutton, milk, fish, rice, soil, leaves and fertiliser samples are also being collected. Samples are being taken from households, nearby hotels, and the Gundugolanu wholesale market. Blood samples are being collected from the affected persons within the zero hour,” he said. 

Andhra Pradesh Health Minister Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas (Nani) noted that the illness has been surfacing in limited areas of the affected villages this time around, unlike last time when it was seen in a larger area in Eluru town. “Experts say if it’s water contamination or food poisoning or air pollution,the entire village must be affected. The affected persons here have eaten very different food,” he said. 

In Komirepalli, around seven ambulances and two medical camps have been set up, and ten doctors and 20 ANMs (Auxiliary Nurse Midwives) have been deployed, he said, apart from a special hospital ward being set up in Eluru.

Apart from the analysis done in December on the Eluru illness, another consolidated report has been prepared by experts, said Principal Secretary (Health) Anil Kumar Singhal. He also said that as a precautionary measure, authorities have decided to test water samples from 60 to 80 villages in the two constituencies (Unguturu and Denduluru) which use water from the Eluru canal. “Water samples from all the surrounding villages, including groundwater samples and also pesticide samples will be collected,” he said. He added that at the time that the Eluru illness surfaced in December, experts had seen it as a one time incident. “We will analyse the sample results and consolidated report from  Eluru illness to understand why this is specifically happening in this area, and if any permanent measures are needed,” he said.  

He also spoke of setting up regional labs in the state, and at the district headquarters level, so that samples can be analysed faster in such incidents. 

Read: Pesticide particles behind Eluru mystery illness, Andhra govt concludes

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