Unidentified killer disease in India leaves one dead, hundreds hospitalised

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One person has died and more than 400 have been taken to hospital in southern India due to an unidentified infection that caused many to fall unconscious following seizures and nausea, according to a senior health department official.

The illness was detected on Saturday evening in Eluru, an ancient city in Andhra Pradesh state famous for its hand-woven products.

Since then, patients have experienced symptoms ranging from nausea and anxiety to loss of consciousness, doctors said.

Government and medical authorities in Andhra Pradesh said more than 200 people were discharged at the weekend and that tests had ruled out Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Further serological tests are under way.

Separately, India’s federal health ministry said on Monday it would send a team of three medical experts to investigate the outbreak, which it said has infected more than 300 children.

"The children reportedly suffered from dizziness, fainting spells, headache and vomiting,” the ministry said, adding that a door-to-door survey was also under way.

A 45-year-old man who was hospitalised with symptoms similar to epilepsy and nausea died on Sunday evening, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

So far, water samples from affected areas have not shown any signs of contamination, and the chief minister’s office said people not linked to the municipal water supply have also fallen ill.

State Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy visited a government hospital and met patients.

Opposition leader N Chandrababu Naidu demanded on Twitter an "impartial, full-fledged inquiry into the incident".

Andhra Pradesh is among the states hit worst by Covid-19, with more than 800 000 detected cases.

The health system in the state, like the rest of India, has been frayed by the coronavirus.

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