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Hundreds sickened by mystery illness in southern India

Hundreds have been hospitalized and at least one death reported as an unidentified illness has spread through Andhra Pradesh, India.

According to The Associated Press, the Press Trust of India news agency reported on Sunday that a hospitalized 45-year-old man died after exhibiting symptoms similar to epilepsy and nausea.

Symptoms that have been observed so far include nausea, anxiety and loss of consciousness, reports the AP. The illness was first detected on Saturday in the city of Eluru.

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The patients who have fallen ill with the mystery illness have tested negative for the coronavirus and other viral diseases that could explain their symptoms. Officials have yet to determine the cause of the illness. Water samples have not shown any signs of contamination and not all the patients exhibiting symptoms were linked to the municipal water supply.

A team of experts was sent to the region by the federal government on Monday to investigate the illness.

The Times of India reported that most of the patients were in their 20s and 30s, though there were some children under the age of 12 as well. 

According to the newspaper, “Organochlorine pesticides” are now believed to be the most likely cause of the sudden illness. According to the newspaper, these chemicals are mostly used in anti-mosquito fogging.

When asked about the possibility of the chemical being responsible an Indian government official told the Times, “Mostly yes, but we are waiting for the laboratory report [for confirmation].”

The AP notes that Andhra Pradesh is among the states in India that have also been hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 800,000 confirmed cases.