Canadian doctors believe they have the answer to a mysterious, life-threatening brain disease

Patients first reported pain, mood swings and spasms, before many later developed memory loss, muscle wasting, drooling and involuntary chattering with their teeth, reports The Guardian. At least 43 people were affected, five of whom lost their lives.

Reminiscent of “balloon madness”

Symptoms should be reminiscent of dangerous prion diseases, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob diseasea human variant of mad cow disease, but doctors have found no evidence of it.

In prion diseases, brain cells die very rapidly in numbers and leave small holes. The researchers found no such deficiencies in these patients.

– After detailed analyses, we have a hypothesis that this is linked to an environmental factor which is toxic, explains Dr. Alier Marrero at Global News in Canada. They are now looking for possible sources of poisoning in the area.

What all the patients have in common is that they come from the same geographic area, the Acadian Peninsula in New Brunswick, in the east of the country.

Norwegian teacher: – Unusual

The first case was reported in 2015, but it wasn’t until 2019, when cases became much higher, that health authorities intensified the search for the cause.

– Here it is a serious disease of the brain, which evolves very quickly and which is fatal. It’s very unusual to see this type of disease in clusters, says Charalampos Tzoulis, professor of neurology at the University of Bergen. NRK.

He recounts previous examples where water or food sources have been contaminated with, for example, heavy metals and herbicides.

Alec Dittman

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