Eluru (Andhra Pradesh): A 26-year-old mother of two, who suffered the mysterious illness in Andhra Pradesh's West Godavari district headquarters Eluru is shaken. Where she could shift if it was really the living conditions that caused the scourge, she asks.
"We always drink municipal water. If this is what happens when we drink tap water, then where should we go? What should we drink and what should we eat?" wondered Sai Sri Hima Bindhu with IANS.
Bindhu is a resident of JP Colony in the town, which is one of hardest hit. The colony wears a deserted look. As many as 40 people in this working class colony alone collapsed with epileptic fits of the mysterious illness.
Like everyone, Bindhu doesn't know the exact cause of the illness but reiterated what everybody in Eluru was suspecting, municipal water.
"We don't know how we contracted this disease. Everybody is saying this is because of the water. I am not the only one drinking the water. There are little children also in my home. If it was because of water, then everybody should get it. Nobody is able to tell why it has happened," she said.
Recounting the horror when she was struck with the illness, Bindhu said she was away from Eluru for some downtime in East Godavari district.
Accompanied by three more women from the motorcycle showroom where she started working only a week ago, Bindhu went to enjoy the sights at a waterfall near Rampachodavaram, 142 km northeast of Eluru, north of Rajamundry.
When everything was going well and Bindhu was enjoying herself, she collapsed all of a sudden.
"I turned to one side and suddenly collapsed with epileptic fits while talking. People around me told me that I frothed and snored heavily. Snoring was heavy," recalled Bindhu, saying she was lucky to have collapsed in a safe place and not downhill.
She was immediately shifted to Maredumilli primary health centre where she regained consciousness when her wound on the temple was being stitched.
Bindhu was given some tablets and an injection at Maredumilli, following which she returned home to Eluru.
On Wednesday, she visited the district hospital in the town, where most of the victims of the illness are being treated.
"I was prescribed a CT scan. I underwent the scan on Thursday, doctors said there was no problem. Since I got hurt they told me to take rest and come again on Saturday," she said.
As she collapsed on a rocky place, Bindhu suffered three bruises on the face and bit her tongue hard during the seizures.
"I bit my tongue, until now I am not able to eat. If it is a wound, I can move around but because of the fits I bit my tongue and cannot eat. I bit my tongue hard," she said.
Despite the difficulty with the tongue, she is trying to eat but is feeble now. She said the government did not give her any health supplements but treated her for free.
Government doctors also told her to buy antibiotics from outside as the ones with them are not as potent.
"I am a very energetic person, I can withstand any difficulty generally, since this illness struck me, I am scared now. What about my children? There are many children like this in the hospital," Bindhu pointed out.
She said a government nurse is visiting her everyday to check her health. Earlier on Monday, a team from the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) visited her home to take a blood sample.
"Some more people came. They spoke to me and asked how I am feeling. On Wednesday, people from AIIMS came, they also spoke to me and took photographs of my mouth," said Bindhu.
As everyone is pointing a finger at municipal water, which was found to have Organochlorine pesticide, the young mother said she had no clue as to what was getting mixed into it.
"We cannot see it. We use the water what the government provides, whether it is for drinking or bathing. It is not possible for us to bring water from elsewhere," she pointed out.
Now Bindhu's family has started buying water cans at Rs 30 each.
Though she has recovered from the disease, Bindhu is still scared if the mysterious illness could strike her again.
"What will happen to me if I get fits while pillion riding my husband's two-wheeler. My husband took me to the hospital, and there was nobody else. Suddenly if something happens and I get fits and fall down, what would happen?" she queried.
If it was fever or some regular illness, Bindhu said she can anticipate the symptoms and be prepared but as many as 40 people in her locality are now striken with the mysterious illness that has sent shivers down her spine.
"We have become like this after drinking water. Please do justice to us. I don't know if I will get the mystery disease again. I am very scared to even go out. I am scared when I will get the fits," Bindhu said.