Mystery illness cases rise to 300 in Andhra's Eluru, officials still clueless

Covid-19 tests were conducted on all the people admitted to the hospital and they tested negative.
A man who suffered mystery illness, being shifted to hospital in Eluru on Sunday | Express
A man who suffered mystery illness, being shifted to hospital in Eluru on Sunday | Express

VIJAYAWADA: The number of people admitted to the Government General Hospital in Eluru with symptoms of a mystery illness increased on Sunday even as health officials seem to be clueless in diagnosing it. About 270 people, including 46 children, were hospitalised by Sunday afternoon. Around 70 people were discharged from the hospital after their condition became stable. A 45-year-old man from Vidyanagar and a 30-year-old woman from South Street in Eluru reportedly died. However, the doctors have not yet confirmed the cause of their death. 

The condition of five patients, including a six-year old girl, who were shifted to the Government General Hospital in Vijayawada, is stated to be stable. The number is likely to increase further. According to unofficial reports, the figure has crossed 300. Consumption of contaminated water is suspected to be the reason behind the sudden hospitalisations, but the officials clarified that they are awaiting results of the water samples sent for analysis. 

Covid-19 tests were conducted on all the people admitted to the hospital and they tested negative. Blood and CSF samples were collected and sent for testing. CT scans were also done. Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, who will visit  Eluru on Monday, spoke to Health Minister Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas (Nani) and enquired about the mystery illness. He directed the health officials to make every effort to ensure the recovery of the people affected by the illness and find out the reason behind it at the earliest. 

He also instructed them to send a medical team from Vijayawada to Eluru immediately. Jagan praised Nani for his quick response to the crisis and personally overseeing the treatment to the patients. Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy enquired about the mystery illness with Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney and assured all help from the Centre. 

The Chief Minister will visit Eluru on Monday and interact with the patients undergoing treatment at the GGH. He will hold a meeting with the Health Minister and higher officials to review the situation.  
Expressing concern over hundreds of people falling ill, Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan enquired with the West Godavari district administration about the condition of those admitted to the hospitals and directed the Medical and Health Department to provide the best treatment to the affected. He also instructed the officials concerned to find out the reason behind such a large number of people suddenly falling ill and create an awareness among people on the precautions need to be taken to keep the illness at bay as per the advice of medical experts.

Health Minister Nani visited the GGH and interacted with the patients and doctors. He said five patients were shifted to Vijayawada for better treatment as their condition deteriorated. Some of the patients are suffering from other ailments like kidney problem.  “There is no danger to their lives and the condition of most of them has got stabilised,” Nani said. 

Stating that medical camps were organised in South Street, East Street, Arundhati Peta and other places from where most of the cases were reported, he said a door-to-door survey is also being conducted to identify if there are any unreported cases. Additional beds have been readied at Asram Hospital in Eluru and also at the GGH in Vijayawada to meet any eventuality. Adequate number of 108 ambulances are kept ready with medical teams to shift patients, he said. 

Nani maintained that there was no contamination of water being supplied by the municipal corporation. The results of blood samples came negative. “Now, we are waiting for culture cell sensitivity and CSF tests, which will take 48 hours,” he said. 

Eluru GGH Superintendent Mohan Rao said, “All the patients are being given emergency medical treatment and 80 per cent of them are stable. They were admitted to the hospital after convulsions and mild headache. In several cases, they fainted after vomiting. Some of them had bone dislocation and muscular pains. Epidemiology and microbiology experts from Vijayawada are coming to Eluru to ascertain the cause of illness. Services of psychiatrists and psychologists are also being used to counsel the patients as several of them are distressed.”

Some of the discharged patients said they did not know what happened to them and they were informed later that they had a bout of convulsions. Most of them said they consumed tap water as usual and started vomiting before fainting. 

What is the cause?

Vomiting, headache and seizures among patients in Eluru are not related to the sequence of symptoms of any known disease, say medical experts

There may be chances of encephalitis, but again the initial sequence of symptoms are not matched as well
In some cases, the patients fainted first and then frothed   

Water borne disease symptoms:  

  • Vomiting  
  • Stomachache 
  • Headache 
  • Seizure

AIIMS Mangalagiri team to Eluru 
The AIIMS Mangalagiri team comprises Dr Rakesh Kakkar, Medical Superintendent and Community Medicine Specialist, Dr Vamsidhar C and Dr Rajasekhar, Critical Care Specialists, Dr Mangayakarasi, Head of Department of Microbiology, Dr Sathyanarayin, epidemiologist, and Dr Vamsi Krishna Reddy, DMS & Hospital Administrator (Coordination)

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