The sale of vegetables is seeing a dip in Eluru, the headquarters of West Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh, due to the outbreak of a recent mysterious illness that left many hospitalised. "For the past four to five days, leafy vegetables are not being sold. People are not coming to buy vegetables. We are just sitting with them, without any business," said a vendor.
Following the outbreak of the illness, which is yet to be conclusively identified, many people are exercising caution. Experts from several reputed organisations have already taken samples of items which the victims have used for cooking for investigation. The samples include vegetables, rice, fish, meat and soil, among others.
Dr AVR Mohan, the Superintendent of West Godavari district hospital, said that people in Eluru have been advised to wash the vegetables thoroughly before use. The doctors too advised washing vegetables with saltwater to be safe.
As many as 14 expert agencies have asked for more time to properly investigate the samples.
Symptoms of the mysterious illness include three to five minutes of epileptic fits without repetition, forgetfulness, anxiety, vomiting, headache and back pain.
Meanwhile, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHF) is preparing a detailed report based on the preliminary information shared by a Central team which is visiting the town.
The All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, has tied up with other institutions to study the presence of organochlorine and organophosphates in the blood of the affected people.
After studying some samples, AIIMS found the presence of lead and nickel only in two of the 40 urine samples. So far, one person has succumbed to the illness.
An analysis by scientists at the National Institute of Nutrition found traces of mercury in rice and pesticides and herbicide residues in excess quantities in vegetables. The NIN also found out that residues of organophosphorus in blood, but said it has to be studied how they entered the humans.