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Canadian orphan mystery brain syndrome

Forty-eight people from a small province Similarly, in Canada there are confusions such as insomnia, movement disorders and hallucinations such as dead man’s nightmares.

Quirky neuroscientist works 12 hours a day to decipher clues

Conspiracy theory that accuses illness on cell phone towers Vaccines against fracking or even Covid-19

These are just some of the mysterious plotlines that halted Canadian nursing homes. It caught the attention of some of the world’s leading neuroscientists. and caused fear among New Brunswick residents. A picturesque province of about 770,000 on Canada’s Atlantic coast. in the last six years Dozens of people fell ill from the disease. and there were six deaths.

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“People panicked,” Bertrand Mayor Yvonne Godin said. A village in the Acadian Peninsula northeast of New Brunswick where people are suffering, he said. ‘Is it environmental? Is it genetic? Is it fish or venison? Is it something else? Everyone needs an answer.”

Because the corona virus has spread across the country in the past 15 months. The medical mystery initially slowly gained national attention. Canadian health authorities distracted by the need to respond to the pandemic trying to determine the severity of the outbreak That was made public after a memo about the matter by New Brunswick’s chief medical officer was leaked to the press in March.

Doctors investigating the disease said the slow response highlights challenges for other medical conditions in the race for spotlight during the global pandemic.

Medical experts say the gloom surrounding the illness also reflects that although medical science has made extraordinary advances, Certain conditions, especially neurological diseases associated with dementia It can solve even the best scientific brains in the world.

The Canadian outbreak may join the pantheon of other maladies. That has confused the world, such as the debilitating illness that crippled dozens of diplomats in Cuba and China beginning in 2016, raising suspicions that victims could be targeted by Moscow, Beijing or a rogue government. There was a painful and puzzling kidney disease that plagued sugarcane harvesters in Nicaragua four years ago.

However, this mystery might as well fade away. If it turns out that a new, pre-existing disease has prematurely imposed many conditions.

Among Canada’s youngest victims of the disease is 20-year-old Gabrielle Cormier, a former A-student who participated in figure skating competitions and aspires to become a pathologist.

But when she started college two years ago, Cormier said she felt sudden, inexplicable fatigue. by starting to collide with things And there was a vision that seemed stagnant from the television. Can’t read easily or walk to school anymore She was forced to drop out of school.

Not understanding what is wrong amplifies the horror of illness. After being misdiagnosed with mononucleosis, Cormier said emergency room doctors told her there was nothing wrong with her. The battery test has no diagnostic results. She was eventually referred to a neurologist. Due to her deteriorating health And she had involuntary spasms, amnesia, and hallucinations. included in the group of patients with this disease

Today, she lives at home in Dalhousie Junction in rural New Brunswick. and walk with a cane “I just started what should be the best chapter of your life. And it disappeared,” she said. “I don’t know if I’m going to die or spend the rest of my life with these symptoms.”

Dr. Neil Cashman, a neuroscientist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. It is a type of medical investigation that only occurs a few times a year, which is investigating the disease.

“From the perspective of mystery There is often something terrifying, like murder. In this case, it’s dementia and rapidly progressive psychiatric symptoms. Suddenly losing everything that is controlled by the brain and spinal cord,” he said. “It’s scary.”

But other medical professionals instead questioned the novelty of this symptom.

Dr. Michael Geschwind, professor of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco, is one of the world’s leading experts on rare neurodegenerative outbreaks. The cases or autopsies of those affected were not studied. But he cautions that what appears to be a new disease sometimes turns out to be a known, undiagnosed disease. He added that those affected may end up suffering from “grab bags” of different neurological diseases that are linked.

“Sometimes what looks like a cluster turns out to be something else,” he said.

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The disease first emerged in 2015 when New Brunswick neurologist Dr. Alier Marrero saw a patient with strange symptoms. A mix of things, such as anxiety, depression, and rapidly escalating dementia. muscle pain and abnormal vision

Three years later he had a total of eight patients. Next year the total is 20, then 38. Then 48.

The patients were between 18 and 84 years old, and most of them lived in two areas of New Brunswick: Moncton and the Acadian Peninsula.

Marrero, a doctor at Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Center in Moncton, was puzzled by what he noticed. He ordered a blood test. Spinal puncture, MRI scan and ECG

Marrero said the tests revealed abnormalities such as brain atrophy and neurodegenerative disorders. But none of the results were linked to establish a definitive diagnosis.

Initially, he suspected the disease. Creutzfeldt-Jakob This is a rapidly progressive neurological disease thought to be caused by prions, a new type of infectious agent that damages the brain. But the patient tested negative for a known form of CJD.

He polished medical textbooks. He consulted with colleagues around the world. Ultimately, he said, there was only one reasonable conclusion: “It’s not something we’ve seen before.”

When there is no diagnosis So he named the tedious work on the deadly disease Neurological Syndrome of Unknown Etiology in New Brunswick. by notifying colleagues and federal and provincial health agencies.

in April Six years after the first case Health authorities in New Brunswick and Ottawa the capital city of canada has assembled a team of neuroscientists public health researcher environmentalist and veterinarians for inspection Autopsies of the six victims are being analyzed at a federal lab in Ottawa. Meanwhile, teams of neuroscientists and pathologists from across Canada are examining the evidence.

From three autopsies up until now All were negative for a known form of prion disease, according to neurologist Dr Michael Coulthart, who led the investigation.

Medical examiners said the list of possible causes had been reduced to four or five.

Kashman, a neuroscientist at the University of British Columbia, said: “One of the questions is whether the disease may be caused by a toxin called phenylephrine. beta-methylamino-L-alanine, or BMAA, is produced by blue-green algae and has been linked to diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

He also said the potential culprit was chronic exposure to Domoic acid, a neurotoxin found in shellfish off the coast of New Brunswick.

He said the team didn’t diagnose it could be prion disease or a syndrome caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi.

Some families of those with symptoms were furious that health officials took so long to reveal.

Steven Ellis, whose father Roger was part of the New Brunswick outbreak, said his family wanted to know if the condition was due to genetics or external factors. When cheerful and active His father is now confined to a nursing home and experiences weight loss, irritability and delusions.

After reading an internal memo by New Brunswick health officials that leaked about the disease in March. Ellis was also linked to his father’s illness.

“It was like reading our family’s personal stories,” he recalls. “The pandemic has overshadowed this disease. Why did it take so long to publish this story?”

Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick Chief Medical Officer said in a press release in April that Provincial health officials have responded cautiously when federal health officials said the number of cases was significant. she said there “Long road ahead” to identify the cause

But Ellis said his family was running out of time.

“If my father had terminal cancer Of course, it will upset you. But at least there will be a prognosis,” he said. “We are watching him slowly die. And no one can tell us why.”

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