Traces of lead and nickel have been found in the blood of people who contracted the mystery illness in Andhra Pradesh’s Eluru.
Chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s office said preliminary results from an investigation conducted by an All India Institute of Medical Sciences team found lead and nickel particulate matter in patient blood samples.
Of the 505 people hospitalised with symptoms ranging from giddiness and convulsions to epilepsy, 300 have been discharged and one person has died.
The authorities have called for some more tests to corroborate the finding.
State health commissioner Katamaneni Bhaskar said: “We have tentatively identified the primary cause of this strange phenomenon but it is not yet clear what its source is and how and why it has happened. For instance, the chemicals are found in the body of the patients but not in either water or any food substance (consumed by them).”
Himanshu Shukla, joint collector, West Godavari district, said: “We found lead and nickel in the blood samples in excess amounts. This can be one of the causes. We are sending more samples to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi.”
Officials are now collecting samples of milk and vegetables for further investigation. However, it remains a mystery as to how so many people from different pockets of the town got affected simultaneously.
The Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), Hyderabad, is also conducting tests and the results are awaited.