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Eluru Mystery Illness Not Showing Signs of Contagiousness, Centre Forms Team to Investigate as 340 Fall Sick

A woman showing symptoms of epilepsy being taken to a hospital in Eluru town of West Godavari district on December 6, 2020. (PTI Photo)

A woman showing symptoms of epilepsy being taken to a hospital in Eluru town of West Godavari district on December 6, 2020. (PTI Photo)

The affected persons in Eluru complained of 3 to 5 minutes of epileptic fits without repetition, forgetfulness, anxiety, vomiting, headache, and back pain.

The mystery disease that began spreading in Eluru in Andhra Pradesh has not shown any signs of contagiousness so far, state authorities said on Monday even as the Central government announced that it will fly a team of experts to the town on Tuesday.

"So far, the illness has not spread from one person to another," a note shared by Collector Revu Muthyala Raju stated, even as over 340 people have fallen sick so far. The undiagnosed disease has also caused the death of one person.

Currently, 157 patients are receiving treatment while 168 others have been discharged. Of all the affected persons, 307 hail from Eluru town, 30 from Eluru's rural areas and three from Denduluru.

Raju's report highlighted that the affected persons complained of 3 to 5 minutes of epileptic fits without repetition, forgetfulness, anxiety, vomiting, headache, and back pain. As some people suspected the water supplied as the cause, Raju claimed that people from other areas where Eluru Municipality water is not distributed had also fallen ill.

"One or two persons in every household is ill. People who drink mineral water on a daily basis also reported sick," the Collector claimed. According to Raju, 22 freshwater samples were tested but these were normal.

Authorities are awaiting culture reports of some cerebral fluid samples taken from affected persons while 10 milk samples have been sent to the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) near Tarnaka in Hyderabad for testing.

The ministry of health has formed a three-member team to investigate the sudden illness of people in and around Eluru. The team, comprising Dr. Jamshed Nayar, Associate Professor (Emergency Medicine), AIIMS, New Delhi, Dr. Avinash Deoshtawar, Virologist, NIV, Pune and Dr. Sanket Kulkarni, Dy. Director, PH, NCDC, will reach Eluru on Tuesday morning and submit a report by the evening.

As the unidentified disease swept across several pockets in Eluru amid the coronavirus pandemic, the district administration carried out a household survey to know its prevalence. As many as 62 village and ward secretariats conducted the health surveys in 57,863 households.

Similarly, 56 doctors, three microbiologists, 136 nurses, 117 FNOs and 99 MNOs have been deployed on duty.

In the past 24 hours, 62 medical camps were held, and 20 ambulances and 445 beds made available for treatment at Eluru government hospital and four other institutes.

Fifty beds were also allotted in Vijayawada government general hospital, along with some medical personnel, for the treatment of the affected persons.

Many villages in West Godavari district lack filtered drinking water. Over the decades, successive governments have ignored the pleas of people to fix this problem, forcing people to make do with muddy water.