Recycling of Batteries May Be Behind ‘Mysterious Illness’ in India’s Andhra Pradesh


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The country has been left shaken by a “mystery” illness that has affected around 600 people since Saturday night in India’s Eluru town, Andhra Pradesh. In most cases, the symptoms were the same: epileptic seizures, giddiness, vomiting, and oozing of froth from the mouth.

Doctors and experts from India’s leading hospital AIIMS in Delhi who are ascertaining the exact cause of a new “mystery illness” in India’s Eluru city have stated that the process of recycling of batteries might have led to the outbreak of the unknown disease.

“Process of recycling of batteries or due to indiscriminate dumping of broken batteries or setting the batteries a fire, might have polluted the air and soil”, the medical experts from the AIIMS said.

Briefing the state chief, Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, over a video conference, some medical experts also stated that they suspect bleaching powder and chlorine used for sanitation as part of the measures to prevent the COVID-19 spread might be another cause of the illness.

Earlier in the week, a team of doctors from the AIIMS in their primary investigation found the presence of lead and nickel in the blood samples of those who fell ill.

“As Indians do have nickel in their bodies, the presence of lead might have caused the illness”, the team of experts said.

While taking stock of the situation, the medical team stated that they had observed a significant drop in the level of lead in the bodies of patients 24 hours after being taken in ill.

Experts from the World Health Organisation, National Institute of Nutrition, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, and the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology also took part in the video conference on the unknown disease.

The experts also opined that there’s a possibility of heavy metal entering the human body through rice or vegetables which have been exposed to lead particles.

“We will also test water and milk samples and come to a definite conclusion on the causes of illness at the earliest”, they said, while adding that in their primary findings, it was revealed that pesticides might have contaminated the organic chlorides.

The experts have not yet reached a definite conclusion on the cause of the “mystery” disease.

WHO experts said they are surveying the areas where people have fallen sick and are collecting health details, including the food they have consumed.

Experts from the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology said they are investigating whether the illness is due to a virus. However, they added that it will take some time to get the test results. Indian Institute of Chemical Technology experts have collected drinking water samples for analysis. They opined that the indiscriminate use of pesticides might be a reason for the inexplicable disease.

Andhra Pradesh’s health minister has asked people not to panic and stay calm as the number of cases has been steadily declining and patients are recovering quickly.

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