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An outbreak of an unknown prion disease affecting the brain was recorded in Canada

An outbreak of an unknown prion disease affecting the brain was recorded in Canada 1
PA Wire/PA Images

An outbreak of an unknown disease was detected in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, writes The New York Times.

According to neurologist Neil Cashman, the patients were diagnosed with rapidly progressive dementia and mental manifestations, as if the brain and spinal cord were losing control of the body. Conspiracy theorists blame cell towers, oil workers, or even the Covid-19 vaccine for all of this.

“People are alarmed. They are wondering if this is due to the environment or is it a hereditary disease? Eating substandard meat or fish or something else leads to the disease? Everyone wants to know the answers,” said the mayor of one of the outbreak-affected cities, Ayvon Godin.

The disease was first discovered in 2015, and since then the total number of cases has reached 50, including six fatal. Although the total number of cases remains low, the population of New Brunswick is less than 800,000.

Among the symptoms, experts call insomnia, impaired motor functions, memory loss, fatigue and hallucinations. 

“Over the past 20-plus years, we have not seen a cluster of diagnostic-resistant neurological diseases like this,” Michael Coulthart said, head of the Canadian surveillance network CJD.

As the newspaper writes, the age of infected patients varies from 18 to 84 years. They all live in two boroughs of New Brunswick. 

At the same time, doctors cannot accurately establish a diagnosis, since the manifestations of the disease do not have a clear connection with each other.

“At the beginning of a detective story, something terrible usually happens, like a murder, but in our case, it is rapidly progressing dementia and psychiatric manifestations, when everything that is controlled by the brain and spinal cord is immediately lost. It’s terrible,” Neil Cashman says.

Dr. Cashman says the disease can be caused by a toxin known as beta-methylamino-L-alanine, or BMAA, which is produced by blue-green algae and is linked to diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. 

Another potential culprit, he says, is chronic exposure to domoic acid, a neurotoxin found in shellfish off the coast of New Brunswick. However, according to the doctor, his team does not rule out that it could be a new prion disease or a syndrome caused by an infectious agent such as bacteria, virus or fungus.

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