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Mysterious illness hospitalizes more than 300 people in India, and it’s not COVID-19

An unidentified illness led to seizures, loss of consciousness and some nausea among patients in India.

Patients and their bystanders are seen at the district government hospital in Eluru, Andhra Pradesh state, India.
Patients and their bystanders are seen at the district government hospital in Eluru, Andhra Pradesh state, India, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020
Associated Press

An unknown and mysterious illness has left more than 300 people hospitalized in southeastern India, and has led to one death, according to CNN.

What happened

Patients in Eluru — a city in Andhra Pradesh, India — reported symptoms of a new unidentified illness, which led to seizures, loss of consciousness and some nausea, according to CNN.

Is it COVID-19?

Experts made it clear that COVID-19 is not to blame for these issues.

  • “All patients have tested negative for COVID-19,” said Dolla Joshi Roy, the district surveillance officer of Eluru’s West Godavari District, according to CNN.

In fact, about 180 patients have now been discharged. The remaining patients are “stable,” Roy said.

  • The one patient who died had cardiac arrest after experiencing symptoms.

A medical officer at Eluru Government Hospital told The Indian Express newspaper said the patients all experienced similar symptoms.

So what is it?

Andhra Pradesh’s Health Department said blood tests didn’t show any signs of a viral infection. They’re now testing water samples to see if water was the common source of the illness, according to CNN.

  • “The cause is still unknown but still we are doing all kinds of testing, including testing food and milk,” said Roy.

The state’s health minister, Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas, said more analysis will reveal the true cause, according to BBC News.

  • “We ruled out water contamination or air pollution as the cause after officials visited the areas where people fell sick,” he said. “It is some mystery illness and only lab analysis will reveal what it is.”

The Telugu Desam Party said water contamination was the cause of the illness.