- Over 600 people have become ill due to a mystery disease in Eluru city of Andhra Pradesh
- More than 300 children have been infected with the mysterious illness, with most suffering from dizziness, fainting, headache and vomiting
- Health officials suspect food or water contamination
As more than 600 people have been affected by the mystery illness in Andhra Pradesh, the state government set up a 21-member multidisciplinary committee to investigate the outbreak in the Eluru region of West Godavari, headed by the state chief secretary.
With 13 new patients admitted to the hospital as of Thursday, the total number of cases has now crossed the 600 mark in Eluru. Currently, 32 patients are in the hospital undergoing treatment.
Dizziness, fainting spells, headache and vomiting were talked about by those affected. The committee would recommend corrective steps to prevent such accidents from happening in the future.
A retired bureaucrat, on the other hand, has written a letter to the chief minister suspecting that ‘lead’ coated PVC pipes used for supplies of drinking water could be a reason behind the poisoning.
In his letter, retired IAS Dr. EAS Sarma, who held senior positions in the Government of Andhra Pradesh and was Secretary of the Government of India in the Ministries of Power and Finance, included a comprehensive report prepared by Vikas EcoTech Ltd. on the extent to which lead was found to surpass “safe levels in the supply of drinking water systems in 26 cities in India and its causes and causes.
According to a Quality Council of India (QCI) report, 33 percent of the water samples taken in 26 cities in India showed high levels of lead. The key contributor to lead water contamination tends to be lead coated PVC pipes used widely in urban drinking water systems. The water samples thus analyzed showed that the lead levels were above the Indian standard of 50 parts per billion, which is a dangerous one in itself, according to the WHO standard of 10 parts per billion. In the human body excess lead can cause neurological problems of the type found in Eluru,” Sarma pointed out.
He also suspected the lead poisoning could have been caused by discarded automotive batteries entering the drinking water supply systems.
Research has found that lead water poisoning has more adverse effects on infants. Extreme learning difficulties in children are caused by lead in excess of 10 micrograms per deciliter. The excess lead present in the human body is due to more than 70 different body ailments.
The former bureaucrat based in Vishakhapatnam, who is known for his activism, called for immediate action by civic bodies to ensure the cleanliness of all freshwater sources for the supply of water, reduce the use of PVC pipes and carry out regular, statistically well-designed sample analysis at the consumer end of municipal tap water points.
“The tests should cover not only lead but also other heavy metals such as zinc, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, etc. Where coal dumps are present (as in the port area of Vishakhapatnam), radioactive isotopes of uranium and thorium can also enter water sources”. said Sarma who also said further that pesticides also contain toxic heavy metals.
He complained to the CM about the GVMC’s large-scale waste dumping in Visakhapatnam, near the Mudasarlova reservoir catchment and the Meghadri Gedda reservoir that supplies Vishakhapatnam town with water.