300-Plus People in This City Hospitalized With Mystery Illness

It's not COVID that's made hundreds of Indian residents in the city of Eluru sick
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 7, 2020 6:33 AM CST
300-Plus People Have Fallen Ill Here. No One's Sure Why
Patients and bystanders are seen at the district government hospital in Eluru, Andhra Pradesh state, India, on Sunday.   (AP Photo)

At least one person has died and several hundred more have been hospitalized in a town in southeastern India, and officials there aren't quite sure why. CNN notes that although India is second only to the United States in terms of the coronavirus cases it's had, with nearly 9.7 million, that's not what's felling people in the town of Eluru, in the state of Andhra Pradesh. All "have tested negative for COVID-19," district surveillance official Dolla Joshi Roy says of the 300-plus patients. Those who'd taken ill suffered such symptoms as seizures, passing out, nausea, and the chills, per the Independent. "The people who fell sick, especially the children, suddenly started vomiting after complaining of burning eyes," a medical worker at an Eluru government hospital tells the Indian Express. "Some of them fainted or suffered bouts of seizures."

The Press Trust of India notes the one fatality so far is a 45-year-old man who died hours after being admitted to the hospital with nausea and epilepsy symptoms. Roy says he died after going into cardiac arrest that appeared unrelated to his other symptoms, per CNN. About 180 patients have been discharged, while the remaining patients, including women, kids, and the elderly, are said to be in stable condition, Roy adds. Food and milk samples have reportedly been sent to the lab, and patients are said to have received blood tests, brains scans, and brain fluid tests. Initial tests didn't find evidence of viral infections like dengue, per the state's health department; officials are looking to see if E. coli could be behind the illness. All the patients do receive their water from the same source, but a state health minister says both water contamination and air pollution have been ruled out. An opposition party member, however, insists water contamination is actually the cause. (More India stories.)

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