India news: Mysterious illness causes ‘public panic’ in Indian district as cases rise | World | News

Andhra Pradesh: Hundreds fall sick from ‘mysterious disease’

So far, at least 450 people have been hospitalised and hundreds more affected by the illness. Covid-19 has been ruled out, and West Godavari district collector Revu Muthyala Raju said yesterday there was no sign of contagiousness up until that point, the Times of India reports.

Symptoms include fainting, seizures, and nausea. At least one person – a 45-year-old man – died of a heart attack following onset of the symptoms, according to reports.

Water contamination was being investigated as a possible cause, with authorities probing 20 water supplies in and around the city of Eluru, where the outbreak was first reported, Reuters said yesterday afternoon.

However, state health minister Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas claimed water contamination has been ruled out as a cause of the disease spread.

N Chandrababu Naidu

Andhra Pradesh politician N Chandrababu Naidu has called for an impartial investigation (Image: Hindustan Times / SIPA USA / PA Images)

Indeed, the chief minister’s office claims people not linked to the municipal water supply have also fallen ill, AP news agency said.

Patients are reported to have tested negative for Covid-19 or viral infections such as dengue and herpes.

A district surveillance officer, Dolla Joshi Roy, said yesterday that 200 people have been discharged from hospital.

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Covid test India

Andhra Pradesh has already been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic (Image: Noah Seelam / AFP / Getty)

He said at the time investigators did not know how the illness was spreading, but that it is “very localised”.

He added: “We tested everyone for Covid-19 and that came back negative, so we know it is not that.”

The Times of India adds various tests have “almost established” that organochlorine substances could be playing a part in the illness.

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Boy washing hands

Researchers have investigated whether water is the cause of the illness. Pictured: A boy washes his hands in Secunderabad (Image: Noah Seelam / AFP / Getty)

These compounds are used in agriculture as pesticides including as a mosquito repellent.

The state government of Andhra Pradesh has said: “The causes of the outbreak are not known yet.”

Additionally, India’s federal health ministry said yesterday the illness has affected over 300 children.

It stated: “The children reported suffered from dizziness, fainting spells, headache, and vomiting.”

A central team is due to visit Andhra Pradesh today and publish a report by Tuesday evening local time.

Sputnik news reports the government is seeking to communicate with the public to manage “panic”.

The illness has sparked anger from the opposition Telugu Desam Party, which called for an inquiry into the incident.

Eluru on Google Maps

Hundreds of cases are localised to the town of Eluru (Image: Google)

An official from the party, N Chandrababu Naidu, said on Twitter on Sunday: “I demand an impartial, full-fledged inquiry into the incident.

“Floods, cyclone, or healthcare, the YSRCP Govt has been caught napping in emergency situations.”

The mystery illness has hit one of the worst-affected areas in India by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Over 800,000 cases have been detected there, reportedly leaving the healthcare system in a fragile state.

India as a whole has reported around 9,700,000 positive cases of Covid-19, with at least 140,958 deaths.

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