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A ‘Mystery’ Illness Has Sickened 250+ People in Andhra Pradesh

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Dec 7, 2020

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Image Credit: Samayam Telugu

More than 250 people in the city of Eluru in Andhra Pradesh have been affected by a common set of symptoms — nausea, vomiting, fainting, seizures, severe headaches, among others — that doctors can’t pinpoint to a specific illness. One affected man has died.

“The people who fell sick, especially the children, suddenly started vomiting after complaining of burning eyes. Some of them fainted or suffered bouts of seizures. Some were in critical condition when they were brought in on Saturday,” a medical officer at the Eluru Government Hospital told The Indian Express.

Despite initial suspicions, the state government has now ruled out water contamination as the cause, “after officials visited the areas where people fell sick. Water samples were sent for testing, and no contamination was found,” A.K.K. Srinivas, health minister of the state, told the media.

However, despite denial from the state government, members of the region’s opposing political parties are alleging that the illness was prompted by water contamination.

Despite Andhra Pradesh having the third-largest Covid19 burden among Indian states, the novel coronavirus does not seem to be responsible for the unknown illness. “Blood samples of the patients have been sent to labs. No viral infection has been detected. All the patients are Covid19 negative. It is some mystery illness and only lab analysis will reveal what it is,” Srinivas added.


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Initially, medical experts had also suspected encephalitis, but they concluded that the sequence of symptoms didn’t match.

Despite having performed CT scans and X-rays, alongside testing cerebral spinal fluids, health authorities have been unable to ascertain the cause of the illness, so far. At present, experts are awaiting fluid culture test results, as well as results of E. coli tests — for insights into any probable cause of the illness.

Officials in the state are also conducting door-to-door surveys to identify more unreported cases, and according to some reports, to continue checking for possible water contamination as well.

At present, more than 70 patients have been discharged, while another 157 are still being treated at hospitals, the BBC reported. Additionally, five patients have been shifted away from the district, to a government hospital in the city of Vijaywada for better treatment.

Currently, the state government is readying additional hospital beds and keeping emergency vehicles on standby for more potential cases. “Most of the victims have recovered and others are stable. We have readied 50 beds in the [government hospital] in Vijayawada to shift patients if required. Our medical teams are attending to every patient,” Srinivas told India Today.

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Written By Devrupa Rakshit

Devrupa Rakshit is an Associate Editor at The Swaddle. She is a lawyer by education, a poet by accident, and a painter by shaukh. She has her own podcast called #DateNightsWithD on Spotify. You can find her on Instagram @devruparakshit.

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