The Centre rushed a three-member expert team to the Andhra Pradesh town of Eluru on Monday as authorities struggled to control a yet-to-be-identified “mystery” disease and 171 more patients were admitted to hospital with symptoms ranging from giddiness and convulsions to epilepsy.
Chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy flew down to the town, the capital of West Godavari district, to visit patients admitted in the last 48 hours, according to hospital authorities. Blood samples of some patients were also sent to the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad, for examination as the total number of patients rose to 471.
“We have not come across such strange phenomenon till now. Strangely, most of them are showing signs of recovery within hours of being administered medicines for symptomatic treatment. But more and more patients are getting admitted to the hospital for same symptoms,” Dr T Geetha Prasadini, director of public health said. K Gangadhar (35), who complained of giddiness and headache, vomited within minutes of being brought to the hospital. “He had convulsions and collapsed,” his sister said. So far, only a 45-year old patient, Sridhar, died on Sunday evening . “He also got admitted with the same symptoms. He got cured, but suddenly collapsed later. We are awaiting the post-mortem report to know the actual cause,” Dr Geetha said.
Most patients who suffered from symptoms of mysterious disease were between 20 and 30, but around 65 children below 12 were also afflicted. Some of the patients were sent to Vijayawada and Guntur hospitals.
The three-member central team, headed by Dr Jamshed Nayar, associate professor in the department of emergency medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi and comprising National Institute of Virology expert Dr Avinash Devashtawar and NDCC deputy director Dr Sanketh Kulakarni, will visit the hospital on Tuesday. Dr Geetha said drinking water samples in 32 wards, from where the cases were reported, were tested and reports of blood samples of the patients were normal. But late into the night, hospital authorities struggled to manage the surge of patients.
T Sekhar, 14, suffered severe headache and convulsions. “He was alright till afternoon. All of a sudden, he was crying complaining of headache and giddiness,” his mother Lakshmi said. CM Reddy visited the hospital and interacted with the patients and attendants, assuring all help, and held a review meeting. He directed officials to be vigilant and ready to handle any situation and ordered a top state health official to monitor the situation.