Bizarre neurological illness plagues young Canadians — Analysis
New Brunswick’s otherwise healthy youth are suffering from crippling symptoms.
Many young people, many of whom have no known pre-existing medical conditions, are now showing symptoms of a brand new disease. Families and activists suspect that the government is trying to cover up the fact.
A whistleblower with Vitalité Health Network in New Brunswick told The Guardian on Sunday that symptoms include hallucinations, difficulty thinking, limited mobility, insomnia, and rapid weight loss. Local government has reportedly struggled to dismiss the growing number of cases as Alzheimer’s or other neurological diseases uncommon outside the elderly.
Although 48 cases have been officially confirmed since early spring, The Guardian was told by multiple sources that 150 individuals may have contract the mysterious illness. Many people have also died.
“I’m truly concerned about these cases because they seem to evolve so fast,” the source told the outlet, acknowledging that “They owe us some explanation.”
The fact that little information is available about transmission is one of the most concerning aspects of this condition. At least 9 cases have shown that caretakers or others who are close to sick people developed the same symptoms as the person in need. This suggests the disease can spread easily between individuals and may also be caused by environmental factors. Although there were no CJD confirmed cases, some have suggested that the illness could be compared to Creutzfeldt Jakob, which is a deadly brain disorder caused by mishapen proteins known as prions.
The province has struggled to keep the cases under wraps – the case cluster only became public last year when a memo was leaked to the media, and the government has insisted the “cluster” itself is merely the result of “Missdiagnoses” grouping unrelated illnesses together. Officials declared in October that eight fatal cases were due to “Both unrelated and known pathologies,” rather than a shared and unknown illness. A October-released epidemiological report supposedly excluded any environmental, behavioral or food exposure that may have contributed to the problem.
Another public health scientist, however, who wished to remain anonymous, suggested that the government might be hiding something. “The fact that we have a younger spectrum of patients here argues very strongly against what appears to be the preferred position of the government of New Brunswick – that the cases in this cluster are being mistakenly lumped together.”
Tim Beatty, whose father Laurie died with similar symptoms only to be posthumously declared an Alzheimer’s case, is attempting to have his father’s remains tested for neurotoxins, including β-Methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA), a suspected trigger for the illness. According to The Guardian, the local economy is heavily dependent on lobster fishing. The chemical may be present in large amounts in lobster. Beatty and other families who’ve lost loved ones to the mysterious illness have speculated that the government’s refusal to acknowledge the possible existence of the disease cluster in the region could be politically or economically motivated.
“The government does a fantastic job in promoting conspiracists if there are a bunch of them.,” Beatty told The Guardian. “Are they just trying to create a narrative for the public that they hope we’ll absorb and walk away from? I just don’t understand it.”
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