At least one person has died and 300 have been hospitalized by an unidentified illness in Andhra Pradesh’s Eluru town. The patients had a wide range of symptoms from nausea to fits and falling unconscious. The cause of the illness is yet to be ascertained. More than 140 patients have returned home as on December 7 after treatment at various hospitals while the condition of others remains stable. What is this disease spreading in the town? Here’s what we know so far about it.

The symptoms include convulsions, seizure and neurological symptoms and they are the same across age groups and gender, said state health commissioner K Bhasker Rao.

Doctors have ruled out the known virus spectrum – Japanese Encephalitis, Dengue, Hepatitis and Rabies. None of the patients have tested positive for Covid either, Mr Rao said.

The doctors are yet to pin-point the source of infection, Mr Rao said.

While the patients – who belong to 34 out of 62 ward secretariats in Eluru municipality – may have been using the same water, tests showed the water is safe. The presence of 27 heavy metals has been ruled out and the impurities are within permissible limits, he added.

Teams from the World Health Organisation, the Indian Council of Medical Research, All-India Institute of Medical Sciences are looking at the samples, Mr Rao said. Representatives from Hyderabad-based organisations – National Institute of Nutrition, India, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, and Indian Institute of Chemical Technology – are also looking into the matter.

Samples of blood, urine and cerebrospinal fluid have shown no complication. Doctors are now waiting for culture reports, Mr Rao said. A 24×7 control room has been set up in Eluru.

Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy visited the Eluru Government hospital and interacted with the doctors and patients. He is also expected to hold a meeting with officials at the Zilla Parishad Office.

Majority of the victims were in the 20-30 age group. Around 45 children below the age of 12 years have been admitted.

Reports suggest that anti-mosquito fogging may have caused the disease to spread, however, officials are yet to confirm this.

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