At least 345 people in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh in India have fallen ill and hospitalized due to an unknown and mysterious illness. One person has died, according to reports on Monday.
The illness was detected on Saturday evening in Eluru, an ancient city famous for its handwoven products. Patients experienced symptoms ranging from nausea and seizures to loss of consciousness, doctors in Andhra Pradesh said.
The unidentified disease is potentially creating another public health challenge in a country that’s severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic. As of December 8, India has already recorded nearly 10 million COVID-19 cases and over 140,000 fatalities.
Andhra Pradesh alone has recorded more than 871,000 coronavirus cases, the third highest number among Indian states. The state has 7,033 deaths.
Experts made it clear than the disease is not related to COVID-19.
All patients admitted at the Eluru Government Hospital tested negative for coronavirus. About 180 patients were already been discharged from the hospital.
The 45-year-old patient who died had cardiac arrest after experiencing the symptoms.
“The people who fell sick, especially the children, suddenly started vomiting after complaining of burning yes. Some of them fainted or suffered bouts of seizures,” an officer at the government hospital said.
Andhra Pradesh’s Health Department officials are trying to determine the cause of the illness. So far, water samples have not shown any sign of contamination, and the chief minister’s office said people not linked to the municipal water supply have also fallen ill.
The patients, who are of different ages, also tested negative for dengue, chikungunya or herpes.
Can there be a more unfortunate & bigger failure than this? The Eluru water contamination incident calls for a declaration of Health Emergency in Andhra Pradesh. Enough. (2/3)— N Chandrababu Naidu #StayHomeSaveLives (@ncbn) December 6, 2020
State chief minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy visited a government hospital and met patients who were ill. Opposition leader N. Chandrababu Naidu demanded on Twitter an “impartial, full-fledged inquiry into the incident.”
Specialists from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and a neurologist from out of state have also arrived in Eluru to conduct further neurotoxic tests, and are waiting for the results.