Mystery Illness of Eluru

Why in News

Recently, the Andhra Pradesh government has requested the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)-New Delhi and the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) in Hyderabad to conduct a long-term study to determine the causes of the mystery illness in Eluru in West Godavari district.

Key Points

  • Over 70% of Eluru town, in Andhra Pradesh's West Godavari district, has been affected by a mysterious illness.
    • One person died due to the illness while 550 people were hospitalised.
  • About Mystery Illness of Eluru:
    • Symptoms:
      • Convulsions, seizures, dizziness and nausea.
        • Convulsion is a medical condition where body muscles contract and relax rapidly and repeatedly, resulting in uncontrolled actions of the body.
        • Seizure is a sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbance in the brain. It can cause changes in behavior, movements or feelings, and in levels of consciousness.
        • Dizziness is a term used to describe a range of sensations, such as feeling faint, weak or unsteady.
        • Nausea is stomach discomfort and the sensation of wanting to vomit.
      • The seizures last for 3 to 5 minutes followed usually by vomiting or loss of consciousness.
    • Recovery:
      • Most victims being treated are getting fine within one or two hours and are discharged.
    • Victims:
      • People of all age groups, men, women and even small children are among the victims.
    • Possible Causes:
      • The primary suspicion is on water contamination by heavy metals.
        • Excessive use of bleaching powder and chlorine in sanitation programmes as part of Covid-19 prevention measures might have caused water contamination.
        • AIIMS-New Delhi found traces of lead and nickel in blood samples of 25 victims out of the 45 samples sent by the state government.
      • Scientists suspect that pesticide or insecticide has seeped into drinking water sources.
        • Eluru receives water through canals from both Godavari and Krishna rivers. The canals pass through agricultural fields where runoff laced with pesticides mixes with water in the canals.