More than 450 people have been admitted to the hospital in Eluru since last week, including 65 children under the age of 12. The ‘mystery disease’ has caused panic in the town as nearly half the village has been affected so far. Hundreds of people have experienced seizures, vomiting, even foaming at the mouth. So far, one death has been recorded in the town. Six premier national healthcare institutions and a team from WHO have been engaged in investigating the cause of the unknown illness.
The healthcare system in Andhra Pradesh was already burdened as the state is one of the worst affected by COVID-19. Efforts are being made to identify the source and nature of infection. Earlier, severe contamination of water in Eluru was thought to be the cause as requests to clean the main pump had been ignored for 18 months. At this stage, specialists are trying to determine whether the illness is airborne.
The rapid increase in patients triggered panic among residents of Eluru. Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy made a brief stop at the government hospital and instructed healthcare workers to take appropriate measures. National spokesperson of TDP K. Pattabhi Ram urged the NHRC to look into the healthcare emergency and ensure that the people are provided safe basic amenities.
International media organisations like CNN and The Guardian have taken note of the unidentified illness in Eluru.