How mysterious illness put Eluru in national spotlight

By Sharon Thambala
Eluru (Andhra Pradesh), Dec 14 : Eluru, headquarters of Andhra Pradesh’s West Godavari district, which gave the country a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor was in the limelight for all the wrong reasons in the past fortnight.

However, the small city is recovering from the horror it suffered, with no new cases in the past 48 hours.

“In the district hospital we don’t have any patients. We have not received any patient for the last 48 hours. In Vijayawada government hospital, only four patients are remaining,” West Godavari district joint collector Himanshu Shukla told IANS.

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In total, 622 people were struck by the mysterious illness which had symptoms such as three to five minutes of epileptic fits without repetition, forgetfulness, anxiety, vomiting, headache and back pain.

“I think the situation is under control. We also got results on the tests done on fish samples which were not the source of the illness,” he said.

Shukla has also clarified that the mysterious illness was not a virus.

Thanks to the scourge, Eluru attracted medical experts from far and wide, putting the town under national focus.

Experts arrived from the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the National Institute of Virology, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), AIIMS and others.

A short tour of the city exposes the sorry state of irrigation canals, which are in a filthy condition with polluted water.

Tammileru and other canals in Eluru are in a pathetic condition with water so polluted that they turned green, unfit for consumption or irrigation.

A short conversation with local people had also revealed how dissatisfied they were with the municipal water supply, which was found to be infested with organochlorine pesticide.

Despite the wrong reason which put Eluru under the scanner, the town has a rich past.

What many people do not know is about Eluru’s contribution to the financial and administrative world in the form of Duvvuri Subba Rao, former RBI governor.

Rao succeeded Y. V. Reddy at the apex bank in 2008 during the recession and continued till 2013 when Raghuram Rajan replaced him.

Initially, he studied in a local Telugu medium school in Eluru, before moving to Korukonda Sainik School and eventually topped the prestigious Union Public Service Commission exams in 1972 to become and IAS officer.

In 2008, he was promoted from the role of finance secretary to RBI governor.

Coincidentally, the current district collector of West Godavari, Revu Mutyala Raju, who is stationed in Eluru had also topped UPSC in 2007.

Home to a junction of canal systems, Eluru, historically known as Helapuri, was under the rule of Eastern Chalukyas between 700 and 1200 A. D. It later became a part of the Kalinga empire until 1471.

Later on, Eluru changed hands between the Gajapathis and Sri Krishna Devarayas, Sultan of Golconda and finally established as the district headquarters under the British Raj in 1925.

The city is also famous for carpets, which were believed to have been introduced by weavers from the Middle East.

(Sharon Thambala can be contacted at


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