close
Saturday April 20, 2024

Neurologists clueless as mysterious brain disease sweeps through Canada

Patient advocates estimate over 200 cases likely due to high concentrations of environmental toxins

By Web Desk
July 04, 2023
This representational picture shows a woman experiencing a headache. — Unsplash/File
This representational picture shows a woman experiencing a headache. — Unsplash/File

A mysterious and potentially fatal brain illness that is spreading throughout New Brunswick, Canada, has baffled neurology professionals and aware locals. 

The prevalence of this disorder, which is characterised by neurological symptoms like hallucinations, muscle atrophy, vision issues, memory loss, and abnormal movements, has been rising steadily since it was first discovered in 2015.

The number of cases has increased to 48 from the initial report of a small cluster of patients. The actual number of affected people, according to some experts and locals, could be much higher, possibly exceeding 200.

The fact that a sizable portion of cases involves children and young adults who do not frequently display symptoms of dementia or other neurological disorders is particularly alarming.

Nine fatalities have been linked to this unexplained illness as of 2021. 

Nevertheless, a government investigation into the cause abruptly came to an end in 2021, despite the rising number of cases and the seriousness of the symptoms.

In its February 2022 final report, Public Health New Brunswick, the government agency in charge of the investigation, stated that there was "no evidence of a cluster of neurological syndromes of unknown cause."

According to the report's authors, no common illness or unidentified syndrome could be found, despite the fact that the affected people's symptoms varied greatly.

Doctors and patient advocates, however, do not agree with this conclusion and believe that the disorder may have something to do with the use of pesticides in the province's largely rural environment. 

According to the Times of India, the herbicide glyphosate, which is frequently used in forestry, agriculture, and household weedkillers, has drawn particular criticism.

A doctor's letter suggested that recent laboratory tests on patients revealed "clear signs of exposure" to glyphosate and other herbicide-related compounds. Blue-green algae blooms in bodies of water could be related to glyphosate use. 

Additionally, Phosphorus, a component of glyphosate, can promote the growth of blue-green algae, a species of cyanobacteria known to contaminate food and harm both humans and animals.

Patient advocates claim that the actual number of cases is likely to be higher than 200 because some patients have tested positive for multiple environmental toxins, such as glyphosate, at concentrations that are up to 40 times higher than the typical limit. 

They voice concerns about the possibility that pressure from the business community or other groups may have played a role in the decision to close the case early.

The federal and provincial governments are being pressured by a determined group of patients and their families in New Brunswick to launch a thorough investigation into the disorder.