Hundreds of people were treated for a mysterious disease in a southern Indian town, and a doctor ruled out “mass hysteria” at a time when nerves were already soured due to the Corona virus.
The government has rushed medical experts to Eluru, Andhra Pradesh, to investigate the disease, which first appeared on Saturday and caused seizures, nausea and chronic pain.
Officials said nearly 500 people have been treated – most of them recovering quickly – but the death of a 45-year-old man over the weekend is due to the mysterious illness.
India is already in the grip of the coronavirus with the second largest number of cases in the world – expected to soon exceed 10 million.
Ram, the eminent doctor at Eluru Governmental Hospital, said, “Some people say it is mass hysteria but it is not.”
He said that most of the victims had suffered real symptoms, but that we were “unable to diagnose the cause.”
Other officials pointed to a possible role for chemical additives in pesticides, while residents highlighted the problem of litter and wild boars.
The authorities issued a report on Monday saying that the symptoms included “epilepsy for 3-5 minutes, forgetfulness, anxiety, vomiting, headache and back pain.”
The government has sent doctors from the National Institute of Virology, the National Center for Disease Control and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences to investigate.
The team was collecting samples of edible oil, rice, blood and urine for analysis.
“Most of the patients come with minor head injuries or a black eye as they suddenly collapsed with the seizure,” Ram said.
“But in an hour or two, most of them are fine.”
Police officer Kiran Kumar – who collapsed while doing his duty on Monday – said he was left “frightened” after becoming nearly unconscious for more than two hours.
“My colleagues told me that I screamed something and it collapsed. I was injured in the right shoulder because of a fall on the road.”
According to district officials, the disease does not spread from person to person.
And they released a report on Monday that said symptoms included “3-5 minutes epilepsy, forgetfulness, anxiety, vomiting, headache and back pain.”
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