Excessive amounts of lead and nickel were found in blood samples from patients who fell ill on Saturday, an official said.
New Delhi, India – Excessive amounts of lead and nickel have been found in blood samples from patients who fell ill due to ‘mysterious disease’ in southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, medical official said at Al Jazeera.
More than 500 people in the town of Eluru, Andhra Pradesh, fell ill, reporting nausea, convulsions and fainting on Saturday. At least one person died of the illness on Sunday.
Preliminary results from medical experts, according to a local government statement, suggest that lead and nickel poisoning could be responsible for the disease.
“So far, the results we have received from experts at AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Science) show excessive amounts of lead and nickel in the blood of patients,” said Dr AVR Mohan, director medical at Vijayawada District Hospital in Al Jazeera. by telephone.
“We originally sent samples from 10 patients and yesterday (Tuesday) we sent 30 more samples, the results of which are likely to come today.”
Dr Mohan, who is also the district health services coordinator for Vijayawada, said none of the patients were found to be carriers of COVID-19. “We performed COVID-19 tests for each of the patients, but none of them tested positive.”
He said 72 patients suffering from the mysterious illness had been admitted to hospital.
“We have already released over 400 patients from the hospital,” he said.
The health official said at least six patients who had recovered from the disease suffered a second seizure and were readmitted to hospital. “Later, they were released from the hospital,” Dr Mohan told Al Jazeera.
Officials also collected vegetable and milk samples from affected districts for testing.
“Other tests are being carried out by [the] Indian Institute of Chemical Technology and other institutes and results are expected soon, ”said a statement from the office of the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh.
Initially, it was suspected that water contamination could be the cause of the disease, but health experts found neither lead nor nickel in the water samples tested.
Indian authorities said on Tuesday they were investigating whether organochlorines used as pesticides or in mosquito control caused the outbreak.
Federal lawmaker GVL Narasimha Rao, who is from the state, said on Twitter that he had spoken with government medical experts and that “the most likely cause is toxic organochlorines.”
“That’s one of the possibilities,” said Geeta Prasadini, director of public health in the state of Andhra Pradesh, adding that they were awaiting test reports to determine the cause.
Bilal Kuchay contributed to the New Delhi report