VIJAYAWADA: The cause of the mystery illness that saw more than 600 people hospitalised in Eluru of West Godavari district in December first week last year, still remains a mystery, as several national institutions and committees failed to come to a conclusion on the cause of the illness.
Disclosing details of the investigation into the ‘mystery illness’, Deputy Chief Minister (Health) Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas and principal secretary (medical, health and family welfare) Anil Kumar Singhal said the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) in Hyderabad, which tested more samples, found traces of Triazophos, an organophosphate in some samples.
However, experts from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), who also tested blood and other metabolic samples of the patients ruled it out to be the cause of the illness. “They said Organochlorine could be the possible cause of the illness in Eluru. But, no trace of it was found in any of the samples tested, so far. Perhaps, it might be due to its short half-life. However, all national institutions and experts unanimously agreed that Eluru illness was not caused by any bacteria or virus and ruled out the possibilities of metabolic reasons,” Singhal explained.
Though experts were of the opinion that the incident is a one-time episode, they recommended a long-term study, given a few similar cases were reported in a couple of villages in the district last month. During testing of the samples (blood and urine) it was found that the content of heavy metals — nickel and lead — were more than permissible levels.
“The government has decided to have MoUs with four institutions — AIIMS, Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) — for evaluation and continuous monitoring of all types of samples, that is source of water, food, agriculture and veterinary samples in both Godavari districts for a long term analysis,” he elaborated.
According to Singhal, a total 13 institutions at a national-level had collected, tested and analysed samples. CCMB which collected 36 blood samples, 16 urine samples, 13 vomit samples and stool samples concluded that no organism had caused the illness. NIN which collected more samples form 103 cases including 77 active, 26 recovered and nine controlled ones and tested biological samples, water samples, food sampled 37 different types of pesticide samples found triazophos in a few samples and also Metribuzin in a few samples of tomato and brinjals. However, none of them are found to be related to mystery illness.