VIJAYAWADA: Even as the number of fresh cases of “mystery illness” has come down to 12 on Wednesday and only 44 affected persons are still undergoing treatment, a deadly combination of neurotoxins and organochlorine are prime suspects for the confounding disease that has caught national and even international attention.
State health authorities maintain that these substances found in hydrocarbon pesticides such as DDT can turn poisonous, affecting nervous tissues in human body. This could be why affected people are developing convulsions for a brief period, being getting back to normalcy after some time.
Several reputed central agencies like All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) and World Health Organisation (WHO) are working on finding the source of such poisonous substances entering the human body and affecting nervous system.
The AIIMS report has already confirmed presence of lead in the blood of affected people in its preliminary report after testing 10 patients. It is, however, yet to come up with its report of analysing milk samples.
NCDC has started its investigations to find out reasons for the mystery illness. It is also collecting samples from blood and urine of cattle, as they are exposed to pesticide either through their feed or through consumption of contaminated water. In such a case, their milk may contain residues of pesticide. Humans, who consume such milk even after boiling, have a chance of getting infected with pesticide residues.
NCDC is also collecting samples of crops like paddy and others to test them for any presence of pesticide remnants in them. This is because those who consume food cooked with such crops may get infected. It is also searching for warehouses, where huge quantities of pesticides are stored to check any chance of their leakage or spillage that may find their way into drains, canals and other water bodies, especially owing to recent spell of heavy rains and floods. Soil may have got contaminated with residues of pesticides in the process.
Health authorities say that all these grounds will be subject to a scientific scrutiny. Truth can be established once test reports from several central agencies are out.
Health director Dr. T. Geeta Prasadini said, “We will be able to know the exact reason for the cause of mystery illness very shortly. Several central agencies have collected samples of blood, urine, water, milk and crops, among others. These are being testing at present and their reports are awaited.”