An illness in Eluru last month had affected over 600 residents and the death of one person.

People being treated on hospital beds as West Godavari officials inspect themFile photo of victims of Eluru mystery illness in December
news Health Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 15:11

Over the past week, around 22 people from Pulla village of Bhimadole mandal in West Godavari district have reported illness, with most of them falling unconscious briefly, and in some cases, suffering from seizures. While officials have said that there have been no serious cases or fatalities so far, the events have created fear and panic among residents, as a similar mystery illness that came up in nearby Eluru had affected over 600 residents, resulting in one person’s death. 

Bhimadole Mandal Revenue Officer (MRO) G V Subba Rao told TNM that over the past week, around 22 people in Pulla have been affected with similar symptoms. “They have been treated and sent home. After returning home, there have not been any complications. The reason is yet to be ascertained, water and food samples have been sent for testing,” he said, adding that the incidents have been limited to the East Harijanpeta and West Harijanpeta localities of Pulla. 

Subba Rao also said that symptoms include headache and body pain, apart from falling unconscious, in some cases preceded by a fit or seizures. 

A doctor who examined the patients told the media that around 12 people had been treated at Pulla PHC. “We got complaints that some people were collapsing with fits in a similar way as in Eluru earlier. Some of them have visited the hospital. In total we have recorded 12 cases, of which five or six people experienced fits. The rest of them had lost consciousness for five to 10 minutes and were better after that. Two people were admitted in the hospital briefly as they were feeling weak, and were given saline, fluids and injections,”  he said, adding that all the patients were stable. 

Water samples from the six water tanks in Pulla have been sent for testing, the doctor said. 

Around two weeks after the Eluru mystery illness surfaced in West Godavari in early December 2020, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Indian Institute of Chemical Technology and other science institutes found that pesticide particles could be the cause. However, the state government said that more research was needed to establish how these pesticide particles entered the human body. 

Earlier, the test samples from the Eluru victims revealed the presence of heavy substances like lead and nickel, which led to vegetables, milk, drinking water, fruits and soil samples from  the region being probed to understand how these substances could have entered their bodies. However, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) experts later said that they did not find any organochlorine, organo sulphate or lead in the food samples.At the time, Chief Minister Jagan had asked officials to push for organic farming in the state, as a part of the action plan to prevent such incidents in the future. 

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

The illness has created fear among local residents of the affected localities in Pulla. One resident, Ballari Pavan Rajkumar, told the media that there was lack of adequate sanitation and water supply in the affected localities. 

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