India: Lead and Nickel Found in Blood Samples of “Mysterious Illness” Patients

Nature

The mysterious illness in India’s southern state of Andra Pradesh has taken a more disturbing turn as authorities find excessive amounts of lead and nickel in the blood samples of the patients. 

The mysterious illness was first reported on December 5 where more than 500 people in Andhra Pradesh’s Eluru town fell. The patients reported nausea, seizures, and fainting. On December 6, at least one person reportedly died from the illness, leaving authorities baffled and prompting the government to send in experts. 

READ: Pesticide Deadly to Honeybees, Detected in Honey

Lead and Nickel in the blood samples, suspected pesticide poisoning

India: Lead and Nickel Found in Blood Samples of “Mysterious Illness” Patients

(Photo : Pixabay)
Indian authorities are also looking into the possibility that organochlorines from pesticides used to control mosquito may have has caused the “mysterious illness” in Andra Pradesh, India.

In a report from Aljazeera, Dr. AVR Mohan, medical superintendent of District Hospital Vijayawada disclosed that the results from AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Science) reveal that there are excessive quantities of lead and nickel in the blood of the patients.

Mohan also said that they initially sent samples from 10 patients, and sent 30 more samples on December 8. The result of which is expected to be released today.

India’s top medical body is not yet certain what has caused the “mysterious illness” but they had indicated heavy metal poisoning as a possible cause based on the excessive amounts of lead and nickel in the blood of the first 10 samples. 

G. V. L. Narasimha Rao, a federal legislator from the state posted on Twitter that government medical experts indicate that the “most likely cause is poisonous organochlorine substances”.

Health experts initially suspected that water contamination may have been the cause but they did not find lead or nickel from the water samples that they tested. 

Officials are also testing vegetable samples and milk from the districts. 

Indian authorities are also looking into the possibility that organochlorines from pesticides used to control mosquitoes may have caused the “mysterious illness.”

Should tests confirm the poisoning from pesticide, this will not be the first instance of mass pesticide opening. In Maharashtra three years ago, more than 700 farmers were hospitalized from exposure to toxic pesticides.

In 2013, at least 22 children died in a school in eastern India after being served with contaminated food. A 2019 report also indicated that more than 40 million Indians living in rural areas are exposed to metals, arsenic, and nitrate from the water that they consume.  

READ ALSO: Chlordecone Poisoned and Enslaved Caribbean Martinique and Guadaloupe Banana Plantation Workers 

Mysterious illness not COVID-19 

The state’s health minister ruled out viral infection on December 7 as well as air and water contamination. The patients were tested negative for COVID-19. The hospital has already released more than 400 patients. Authorities also noted that the cases have declined the past two days and the patients seem to be recovering quickly. 

Nonetheless, government authorities in India, and World Health Organization experts have been ordered to monitor the health condition of people as investigation on the cause of the “mysterious illness” is still on-going. 

 The sources of lead and nickel found in the blood samples of the patients are now being investigated.  

READ NEXT: US Streams and Aquatic Ecosystems Disrupted by Insecticide Fipronil

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