Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh) [India], December 16 (ANI): While investigations continue to identify the cause of the sudden outbreak of the mysterious illness in Andhra Pradesh's Eluru, experts from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), after comparing test results from several institutions, have opined that organochlorine, substances found in pesticides, could be contributing to the cause of the spread of the disease.
In a virtual meeting held by Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy on Wednesday with representatives of various research institutes that conducted independent studies on the probable causes of the mysterious disease in Eluru last week.
Most institutions agreed that pesticides might be the reason for the outbreak and long-term studies were required to find out exactly how they entered human bodies.
"Lead traces have been found in the blood samples of patients and nickel found in milk samples. Organochlorine might be the reason for this illness, which probably entered the patients' bodies through pesticides. Lead was also found in the blood samples of the kin of patients. Special long-term observation should be given to samples of food, drinking water and vegetables to find the exact cause of the disease. After comparing the results of tests by various institutes and the case sheets of patients, we are of the opinion that organochlorine is the reason," AIIMS experts said.
In the presentation, the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), Hyderabad, said that 21 water samples, blood samples of humans and animals had been collected. Repeated tests of the drinking water revealed that heavy metals like lead, arsenic or nickel were not found.
Endosulfan, DDD and lead were found in some blood samples, while organophosphates were not.
NEERI Hyderabad experts observed air pollutants and found that air was at a normal level, and the solid waste burning could be a cause.
"We tested earthen water samples and all metals except Mercury were found within permissible limits. Mercury is above the permissible limits in earthen water than the surface level water samples. Organo Chlorine, Organo Phosphates or Lead were not found. Soil samples are still being analysed," they said.
Experts from the CCMB said that samples they tested were normal and no viruses or bacteria had been found.
National Institute of Virology, Pune experts said that serum, urine and other samples were tested and no evidence was found for a viral infection.
NIN, Hyderabad experts said that traces of pesticide traces were found on tomatoes and brinjal and it was possible that the situation arose due to pesticides.
Experts from AIIMS Mangalagiri said that it was yet to be found how pesticides entered the human body.
"Awareness should be created for farmers on use of pesticides and organic long term methods should be encouraged. A medical plan of action should be designed in case such incidents reoccur in the future," he added.
WHO representative Dr Ashish said that the committee constituted by the government should focus on how pesticides entered the bodies of the patients.
While addressing the conference, the Chief Minister said that no possibility was to be written off and tests should be conducted in all dimensions so that similar incidents could be prevented.
"There should be more focus on the management of dumping yards, not only in Eluru but all over West Godavari district. All drinking water sources in all districts should be tested, and analysed by experts in a systematic manner. They should be studied in depth and action should be taken accordingly. AIIMS and IICT should keep a continuous tab on conditions that led to the Eluru episode," he said.
He also instructed the Chief Secretary to prepare a plan of action and such incidents should never take place in the future.
Reddy further asserted that organic agriculture should be encouraged and awareness on organic farming should be created among farmers.
"That should be widely publicized through Rythu Bharosa Kendram (Farmer Support Centers). The Agriculture Department should take special care that harmful pesticides are avoided," he added.
He further instructed health department officials to strengthen Public Health Labs in all districts to regularly collect and test samples, and follow them up based on the results.
"The department should think of 3 state-level labs in all three regions of the state," he added.
State Deputy Chief Minister (Health) Alla Kalikrishna Srinivas, West Godavari district collector R Mutyala Raju and other officials participated in the video conference. (ANI)