'Burning eyes': Hundreds of people infected by mysterious, deadly illness

Brianne Tolj
·2-min read

A “mysterious” illness has killed one person and left hundreds hospitalised in central India just two days after people began showing symptoms.

It began on Saturday when 45 people from Eluru in Andhra Pradesh began showing strange symptoms, including seizures, sudden loss of consciousness, frothing at the mouth and body shivers, according to Times of India.

The publication said about 300 people are in hospital with the ailment, including 46 children and 70 women.

Some of the children began vomiting after suffering burning eyes, according to the Indian Express.

It all began on Saturday when 45 people from Eluru in Andhra Pradesh began showing strange symptoms, including seizures. Source: Times of India
It all began on Saturday when 45 people from Eluru in Andhra Pradesh began showing strange symptoms, including seizures. Source: Times of India

The person who died was undergoing symptomatic treatment in hospital.

Local health authorities reportedly remain clueless about what is causing the illness.

Dr Sushasini Krishna was quoted by the Times of India as saying she had never seen such cases in her 25-year career.

Samples of cerebral-spinal fluid have been sent to a laboratory to be examined.

Authorities are looking into if the symptoms stem from air pollution or contaminated milk, the publication said.

Some people are said to have chalked up the illness to mass hysteria.

It comes as India battles Covid-19. The country has reported more than 9.57 million cases, the world’s second highest after the US, with nearly 140,000 deaths.

Crowd wearing masks walks through an outdoor area in India.
Local health authorities reportedly remain clueless about what is causing the illness. Source: MalaysiaNow/AP

More than 100 children die from encephalitis

Last year, more than 110 children in India, most from poor rural families, died from encephalitis, a type of brain disease that has afflicted the eastern state of Bihar for more than two decades.

Health experts have long been dumbfounded by the root of the encephalitis outbreak, commonly known as brain fever, in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district.

Recent studies have suggested that natural toxins in lychees could harm undernourished children by blocking their ability to produce enough blood sugar, which can lead to death.

The link to the fruit, however, is inconclusive, said Alok Ghosh, the Muzaffarpur district magistrate, who added that in about half of the more than 400 known cases of encephalitis, the children had not consumed lychees.

Three medical sources at the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital, where some 95 patients died, said they thought serious dehydration was likely to blame.

with Reuters

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