Mysterious disease: AP CM directs regular tests of food, drinking water in all districts

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Amaravati, Dec 16 (PTI) Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on Wednesday directed officials to set up public health laboratories in all districts to regularly test food, drinking water and soil samples for possible presence of carcinogenic substances in the backdrop of a mysterious disease that affected several residents in Eluru.

The directive came in the light of reports that confirmed presence of pesticide residues and organochlorine in food that caused the outbreak of the disease which left 615 people sick with symptoms of fits and convulsions recently.

The Chief Minister held a further round of video- conference with experts from various national institutions that tested the food, drinking water, urine and other samples to trace out the causative factors of the mysterious disease, a release from his office said.

Experts from AIIMS, New Delhi, the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, the National Institute of Nutrition and other research organisations confirmed the presence of pesticide residues, organochlorine, lead and nickel in blood, milk and vegetables.

The institutions, however, certified that the drinking water supplied in Eluru was 'clean' and said a deeper study was required to establish how these substances entered the humans.

Referring to the reports, the chief minister asked the officials to open public health labs in all districts and three state-level labs in three regions to constantly test drinking water and food samples to ensure they were contamination-free.

He also wanted monitoringof the (waste) dumping yards to check possible spread of contamination, the release said.

The CM asked the AIIMS, New Delhi, and IICT, Hyderabad, to constantly monitor the situation in Eluru and conduct an in-depth analysis and suggest remedial measures.

He directed Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney, who heads a multi-disciplinary committee, to chalk out an action plan to prevent outbreak of such diseases elsewhere in the state.

Come out with strategies and a plan of action to ensure such incidents do not recur anywhere, the Chief Minister said.

He also asked the agriculture department to focus on elimination of harmful pesticides and, instead, encourage organic farming methods. PTI DBV VS VS