A mysterious brain disease is affecting young people in a Canadian province and no one knows the cause nor has a cure been found.
A whistleblower from the Canadian province of New Brunswick warned that the progressive neurological disease that has been causing rapid cognitive deterioration in those affected for the past two years has medical experts baffled, according to The Guardian.
Symptoms include memory problems, muscle spasms, balance problems, difficulty walking or falling, hallucinations, unexplained weight loss and pain in the limbs and has similarities to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), which is known as “mad cow disease”.
The disease that keeps doctors puzzled apparently affects previously healthy young people. The syndrome was identified in a March 2021 memo from the office of the chief medical officer of health, which stated, “Preliminary investigation conducted in late 2019/early 2020 determined this to be a distinct atypical neurological syndrome.”
Since the first case appeared, 48 cases are being investigated, but experts say the number could reach 150. 8 deaths have been reported, but officials say they cannot guarantee that the mysterious brain disease is to blame for the deaths.
Because 9 of the cases contracted the syndrome from close contact, but without genetic links, it is suspected that environmental factors may be involved.
Speaking to The Guardian, a whistleblower for the health authority Vitalité Health Network said they did not believe the disease was affecting only New Brunswick.
“We’re probably the area that is raising the flag because we’re mostly rural and in an area where people might have more exposure to environmental factors,” the source said.
“I’m truly concerned about these cases because they seem to evolve so fast,” he continued. “I’m worried for them and we owe them some kind of explanation,” the whistleblower added.
A report released in October said a survey of 34 people with the disease had found no specific behaviors, or food or environmental exposure that caused it.
The mysterious disease strikes people of both sexes and all ages, with an average patient age of 59, but even as young as 18.
One of the cases described by CBC News is that of Porelle, who experienced symptoms in an escalating manner, starting with muscle spasms to memory loss, and insomnia.
“One morning, I couldn’t figure out how to use the warm water in the bathroom,” she said. “I had to go into the kitchen where there’s like a little blue and a little red thing that tells you which side it is.
“It took me longer to connect dots and to just do daily stuff was harder, like cooking a meal.” Porelle said she mistakenly stuck her hand into a hot spaghetti and burned herself.
Another case is Gallant, a 21-year-old high school soccer player who was diagnosed with the rare syndrome. He currently has trouble sleeping, hallucinations, severe muscle spasms and his memory is severely impaired. So much so that, he said, he can have a conversation with someone and forgets it five minutes later.