In a worrying development, around 227 people, including 46 children and 76 women, were hospitalised since Saturday night with symptoms resembling epilepsy in Andhra Pradesh’s Eluru town. More than 140 patients have been from the hospital so far, while one person—a 45-year-old man—has succumbed to the mystery disease, as per the latest reports.
Medical and health experts have been rushed to the region on Sunday. Deputy Chief Minister and Health Minister Alla Krishna Srinivas alias Nani said that the situation is under control and medical help is being provided to all the needy. The patients are also being treated in private hospitals, the Minister said and added there is no danger to their lives and they are stable.
The victims complained of sudden collapses, frothing at mouth and shivering. More than 125 of those who were hospitalised on Saturday night were discharged on Sunday after they recovered. Most of the affected people were elderly and children. So far, the blood tests and CT (brain) scans have not revealed any cause for the sudden disease.
From a chemical gas leak to water pollution to a virus, several possible causes are being investigated right now. However, authorities have ruled out air and water pollution based on the initial assessment.
Affected people were brought to the hospital with complaints of dizziness and epilepsy. Water samples have been sent for testing to the laboratory and no water pollution has been reported. Blood samples of the patients have also been sent to the lab and no viral infections are detected. All the patients were tested for COVID-19 and all reports were reportedly negative.
Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy was monitoring the situation personally and instructed the officials to be alert, he added. Special focus is on the areas which reported cases and medical camps are being set up to provide treatment to the patients. Door to door survey is being conducted to monitor the health condition of the people, he said.
The minister said more details will be known after test results come and there is no need to panic. Authorities were baffled as the affected people were neither related nor they had attended a common event. The Health Minister said 150 beds in Eluru and 50 beds in Vijayawada were kept ready for any emergency. “The government is taking all necessary steps. There is no need for any panic,” he said.
Health authorities have also been asked to ensure availability of emergency medicines to deal with any situation. The governor directed officials of the local administration and Medical and Health Department to investigate the reasons behind such a large number of people suddenly falling ill, take the advice of experts on the issue and take immediate steps to resolve the issue and create awareness among people on the precautions to be followed to prevent such incidents from happening again.
(With inputs from TOI & IANS)