Mystery illness in southern India sees 315 people fall sick and one dead

Officials investigating after hundreds of people were admitted to hospital with a wide range of symptoms

Shweta Sharma
in Delhi
Monday 07 December 2020 15:09
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<p>Andhra Pradesh chief minister Jaganmohan Reddy visits hospitals in Eluru after mystery illness swept the town</p>

Andhra Pradesh chief minister Jaganmohan Reddy visits hospitals in Eluru after mystery illness swept the town

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One person has died and at least 315 have fallen sick an outbreak of an unexplained illness in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

Authorities are yet to ascertain the cause of illness which saw a huge spike in the numbers of people admitted to hospital in the town of Eluru.

Around 170 of the patients have since been discharged, officials said. The people affected showed a wide range of symptoms, including fits, nausea, shivering and some passing out.

The state government said it had set up a 24-hour control room to tackle the situation, with chief minister Jaganmohan Reddy pledging more medical resources during a visit to hospitals in the town.

An investigation into the cause of the illness continues, after the state’s deputy health minister said tests ruled out widespread water contamination.

The person who died was a 45-year-old man who was admitted to the Government General Hospital in Eluru on Sunday morning with nausea and epilepsy-like symptoms, according to the Press Trust of India. The man died hours later. 

The state's health minister, Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas, has also ruled out Covid-19 as the cause of all the symptoms, saying every patient tested negative for coronavirus.

“The people who fell sick, especially the children, suddenly started vomiting after complaining of burning eyes. Some of them fainted or suffered bouts of seizures,” a medical officer from Eluru hospital told The Indian Express.

A series of tests have been performed on the people affected, but the results are yet to support a diagnosis.

A district official did say that results were awaited for E-coli, an infection caused by coming into contact with infected faeces.

Milk and food samples have also been sent for examination while local authorities are conducting house-to-house surveys to identify more prospective patients.

The outbreak of unidentified illness comes as Andhra Pradesh grapples with a Covid-19 outbreak that has seen more than 850,000 cases recorded, thousands of which are still active.

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