Lead, nickel found in blood of patients suffering from mystery illness in India

The mystery illness that hospitalized hundreds of people in India may be linked to levels of lead and nickel found in patients’ blood, health officials said Wednesday. 

Medical testing revealed that some people suffering from the unknown ailment —  which causes nausea, anxiety and epilepsy-like convulsions  — had trace amounts of the hazardous chemicals in their bloodstream, Andhra Pradesh government officials said.

But doctors are baffled by how the heavy metals got there and whether they’re related to the disease,  according to All India Institute of Medical Sciences, which conducted the testing.

At least 502 of the 585 people hospitalized from sickness over the weekend had been discharged Wednesday, and none tested positive for COVID-19 or other viral diseases such as dengue, according to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy.

The patients aren’t related to each other, live in different areas and range from children to the elderly, Reddy said during a virtual meeting.

Patient in India
EPA

On Saturday, the sickness swept through Eluru, a city renown for its hand-woven products,  killing a 45-year-old man who suffered from convulsions.

Doctors at the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology are now awaiting the results of toxicology report. Researchers didn’t immediately say how many patients were found to have lead and nickel in their blood.

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