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Eluru 'mystery illness': Pesticide chemicals touted as cause for outbreak

The cause of this disease is probed to be the existence of organochlorine substances by medical experts.

Owing to a 'mystery illness' originating in the city of Eluru in Andhra Pradesh, hundreds have taken to hospitals in the state since Saturday night.

While the mystery disease has baffled health experts given that none of the over 300 hundred admissions were either related, nor did they attend a common gathering of sorts.

The preliminary analysis of test reports of water samples has established the role of chemical substances, those found in pesticides, in the spread of this infection, which has claimed one life so far.

The cause of this disease is unanimously probed to be the existence of organochlorine substances, as per the teams of multiple experts from premier scientific institutions of India, reported PTI. Organochlorine substances are chlorinated hydrocarbons that are used in agriculture and mosquito control; DDT, a widely used substance in anti-mosquito fogging is also an organochlorine substance.

With other tests coming out normal and all patients testing negative for COVID-19 as well, medical teams are now focusing on other chemical agents that could have led to the outbreak, since water contamination has been ruled out as the cause of the disease spread. Water and milk samples were sent to the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad to search for heavy metal content, sources in the Medical and Health Department said.

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Centre's 3-member team in Andhra

The Centre is also sending across a three-member team to Eluru, Vice President Secretariat said on Monday. A statement from the Vice President Secretariat said that Dr Jamshed Nayar, an associate professor (emergency medicine) from AIIMS; Dr Avinash Deoshtawar, a virologist from the National Institute of Virology, Pune; and Dr Sanket Kulkarni, the deputy director and a public health expert from the National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi, are being sent to Eluru.

A team from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is also expected on ground.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on Monday visited the Government General Hospital (GGH) in Eluru. At the site, he spoke to the affected people, assured them of help, as well as directed officials to be on high alert and make preparations to handle potential situations.

According to official data, 263 people have been discharged from GGH post treatment, while another 171 have been admitted as in-patients. Seventeen more patients with relatively worsening conditions were referred to hospitals in Vijayawada and Guntur as well.

Over the past few days, Eluru witnessed people falling unconscious post bouts of fits and nausea. The symptoms, according to GGH doctors, were similar to those of epilepsy, with spurts of memory loss for a few minutes, anxiety, vomiting, headache and back pain.

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