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Opinion

Mysterious disease on Eluru: more test results expected to confirm cause of metal poisoning

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Eluru’s mysterious illness, which has killed one and sickened more than 500 in Andhra Pradesh in a short period of time, has drawn international media attention, although it is still unclear how the metal poisoning came about. The authorities of the Indian Institute of Medical Sciences, Mangalgiri, in their preliminary investigation, found that it was a case of neurotoxicity caused by heavy metals such as lead and nickel.

This is what happened so far:

> On December 5, the first case of this strange disease was registered with symptoms such as seizures, dizziness, foam at the mouth.

> Within 24 hours, hundreds of people from different parts of Eluru reported the same symptoms and all were hospitalized.

> Symptoms persisted for 10 to 15 minutes, although a 45-year-old man died on December 6.

> According to some reports, some cases of relapse have also been observed. However, the number of cases generally fell.

> Is it a case of water contamination? Scientists, health officials, city officials and the revenue department have been tied up to track whether metal poisoning has been caused by drinking water. Pesticide contamination of water has not yet been ruled out.

> The National Institute of Nutrition in Hyderabad has also collected water, milk, rice and vegetable samples from affected people. Biological samples have also been collected from areas where people suffered from these symptoms. He will present the report this week.

> AIIMS, Mangalgiri will also present its final report this week.

> AIIMS, New Delhi is examining how heavy metals got in.

> A team from the World Health Organization also took stock of the situation.

> A team from the Union Ministry of Health also collected samples.

> The Hyderabad-based Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology has sought samples of feces and bile from the victims for viral and bacteriological analysis.

> With regard to this strange disease, two terms are being used: neurotoxins and organochlorines. Lead and ethanol are neurotoxins that destroy nerve tissue when abnormally in contact. Organochlorines are used as pesticides.

Hindustan Times

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