Traces of nickel and lead found in blood samples of patients with mystery illness in Andhra

By Tuesday morning, the number of cases increased to 505 and the number of discharged was 332. There are no reports of any casualties other than 45-year-old Sridhar from Vidyanagar who died on Sunday

Published: 08th December 2020 03:27 PM  |   Last Updated: 08th December 2020 04:05 PM   |  A+A-

Medical staff shifting a man to the emergency ward who is suffering with mystery illness at government hospital in Eluru on Monday

Medical staff shifting a man to the emergency ward who is suffering with mystery illness at government hospital in Eluru on Monday. (Photo| P Ravindra Babu, EPS)

By Express News Service

VIJAYAWADA: Though the number of patients of the mystery illness, which gripped Eluru in West Godavari district, being admitted to hospitals continued to increase on Tuesday, officials said the frequency of cases is steadily decreasing.

By Tuesday morning, the number of cases increased to 505 and the number of discharged was 332. There have been no reports of any casualties other than 45-year-old Sridhar from Vidyanagar, who died on Sunday evening.

Meanwhile, tests conducted on the blood samples sent to AIIMS-Delhi have revealed the presence of nickel and lead, which is suspected to have entered the bodies of the patients either through consumption of water or milk.

“Those two are heavy metals and their traces were more than normal in the blood samples we sent to AIIMS-Delhi. Lead is a neurotoxin and affects the nervous system. However, it is too early to come to a conclusion. We have sent 40 more samples of water and milk to AIIMS as requested and once we get the report, we might able to ascertain the cause of the mystery illness,” Eluru Government General Hospital Superintendent Dr AV Mohan told The New Indian Express.

According to him, the frequency of hospitalisation is decreasing compared to the previous two days. “At present we are preparing to discharge 30 more patients and closely monitoring the health of those in the hospital and also those discharged,” he explained.

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Meanwhile, expert teams from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) are conducting community surveys. They are also collecting samples of water and milk from different localities, where more cases were reported. Blood and urine samples from patients undergoing treatment and those discharged were also collected. NIN is likely to disclose its findings by Friday.

According to Dr JJ Babu, who led the nine-member team of NIN, convulsions, headache in some cases and nausea were the symptoms reported by the patients. “There is a rapid response to the medical treatment. Once we do the lab tests, we would be able to pinpoint the cause,” he said.

On the other hand, results of the samples sent to CCMB, ICMR and other organisations are expected by Tuesday night.

Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, who is closely monitoring the situation in Eluru, held a review meeting with health department officials. He was apprised of the latest developments in Eluru. Reports from IICT and other labs are also expected soon,  said officials.

The Chief Minister instructed the officials to submit a detailed report on the tests conducted on patients suffering from the mystery illness and the results of the tests performed on the water and milk samples. He emphasised a detailed investigation on how heavy metals like nickel and lead entered the bodies of large numbers of people in different areas of Eluru.

“The public health department and other departments should find out the circumstances leading to the illness and possible causes at the earliest,” he said. Officials were also instructed to ensure proper medical treatment without any lapses to all people being admitted to the hospitals

Earlier in the day, deputy chief minister (Health) Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas (Nani) also held a review meeting with district administration and municipal authorities and made a surprise inspection of the head water works from where drinking water is supplied to different parts of Eluru town and its suburbs

“Apart from head water works, we also inspected 22 overhead tanks. Chlorination is being done properly and the content of chlorine in the water is in permissible levels. Meanwhile, water and milk samples have been sent for advanced testing. As many as 62 medical camps have been set up and 108 emergency vehicles have been kept ready to rush the patients of the mystery illness to hospitals. For the next two days, a special sanitation drive will be taken up in the town,” he said.

Reiterating that the situation is under control and there is no need for any panic, the minister said they are closely monitoring the situation and the number of recoveries is also increasing steadily.



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