At least one person has died and more than 550 have been hospitalized due to a disease that has not yet been identified in the state of Andhra Pradesh, in southern India, according to the authorities.
The disease was detected on Saturday night in Eluru, an ancient city famous for its hand-woven products. Since then, patients have experienced symptoms ranging from nausea and anxiety to loss of consciousnessthe doctors said.
The only victim so far recorded is a 45-year-old man, who was hospitalized with epilepsy-like symptoms, with nausea, and who subsequently died on Sunday, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.
Officials are trying to determine the cause of the disease. So far, blood samples have not shown any signs of viral infection, either dengue or chikungunja, both transmitted by mosquito bites.
The Indian authorities sent samples of water and food to be analyzed in a laboratory, because they estimate that they could be contaminated. Even more so when it was discovered that all the patients had drank from the same water source. However, that theory was discarded.
“We ruled out water pollution or air pollution as the cause after officials visited the areas where people got sick. Water samples were taken, which were sent for analysis, and no contamination was found… It is a mysterious disease and only laboratory analysis will reveal what it is, ”explained Kesineni Srinivas, Deputy Chief Minister of Health.
Later, the results realized that those affected show high levels of lead and nickel in the blood, noted the Agence France-Presse
Blood samples from ten people gave high levels of lead and nickel, said Eluru hospital director AV Mohan.
But nevertheless, the samples are unimportant to claim that these two metals caused the massive health problem, in a city of 200,000 inhabitants.
According to a report released Monday, the disease can cause “a 3-5 minute seizure, memory loss, anxiety, vomiting, headache and back pain.”
There are no major factories in the region, and experts are analyzing food and water.
All patients tested negative for COVID-19
As reported by Dolla Joshi Roy, West Godavari District Watch Officer in Eluru, none of the patients who arrived with this strange disease had covid-19.
“All the patients tested negative for COVID-19,” Roy told CNN, adding that more than 180 patients had already been discharged, while the others were “stable.” The patient who died had symptoms similar to the others, but this eventually passed away due to an as yet unrelated heart attack, he assured.
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister of State, YS Jaganmohan Reddy, visited a hospital and met with patients who were ill. Opposition leader N. Chandrababu Naidu demanded on Twitter a “partial and full investigation of the incident”.
The state of Andhra Pradesh is among the hardest hit by COVID-19, with more than 800,000 confirmed cases. The state’s healthcare system, like the rest of India, has been hit hard by the virus.