‘Mysterious’ Brain Disorder Strikes Hundreds – and Cases are Increasing

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    In the province of Brunswick, a baffling and potentially fatal brain disorder continues to afflict an increasing number of individuals.

    Initially observed in 2015 within a small cluster of patients, the condition manifests through a range of neurological symptoms, including hallucinations, muscle wasting, vision problems, memory loss, and abnormal movements.

    The number of confirmed cases has risen to 48, but health experts and local residents assert that the true extent of the condition surpasses 200.

    What is particularly concerning is the unusual prevalence of the disorder among young individuals, who typically do not exhibit symptoms resembling dementia or other neurological issues.

    Neurologist Dr. Alier Marrero expressed his apprehensions in a letter dated January 30, 2023, addressed to New Brunswick’s chief medical officer and the chief federal public health officer. “I am particularly concerned about the increase in numbers of young-onset and early-onset neurological syndrome,” wrote Marrero. The letter, as reported by the Toronto Star, revealed that Marrero had been monitoring 147 cases ranging in age from 17 to 80 years old. Among these, 57 were classified as early-onset cases, and 41 were categorized as young-onset cases.

    As of 2021, the disorder had already claimed the lives of nine individuals, according to the Daily Mail. However, a government investigation that was examining potential environmental toxins as a cause was abruptly terminated in 2021.

    Public Health New Brunswick, the government agency responsible for the inquiry, released its final report in February 2022, concluding that there was “no evidence of a cluster of neurological syndrome of unknown cause,” as detailed in the podcast Canadaland.

    The report authors emphasized the significant variation in symptoms among the individuals within the purported cluster and the absence of evidence supporting a shared common illness or an unidentified syndrome.

    With that, the investigation was officially closed. Nonetheless, Marrero and patient advocates remain undeterred, suspecting a potential link between the disorder and the use of pesticides in the predominantly rural province. Particular attention has been directed towards glyphosate, an herbicide utilized in agriculture, forestry, and household weedkillers.

    Marrero’s letter highlighted recent laboratory tests on patients that exhibited “clear signs of exposure” to glyphosate and other compounds associated with herbicides, according to the Guardian.

    The presence of glyphosate has also been linked to the proliferation of blue-green algae in bodies of water. Glyphosate contains phosphorous, which can stimulate the growth of blue-green algae, a type of cyanobacteria known to cause illness in humans and even lead to the death of animals, including pets.

    Advocates argue that the actual number of cases likely exceeds 200, and some patients have tested positive for multiple environmental toxins, including glyphosate, at levels up to 40 times higher than the established average limit, as reported by the Toronto Star.

    Suspicions have been raised regarding potential influence from industry or other groups in the decision to close the case. Nevertheless, a dedicated group of patients and their families in New Brunswick is urging the federal and provincial government to initiate a comprehensive investigation into the disorder.

    “We are formally demanding that federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos unmuzzle Canadian scientists and direct the Public Health Agency of Canada to uphold the Canada Health Act and reinstate federal experts into the investigation,” stated advocate Steve Ellis in an interview with the Toronto Star. Ellis’s father, Roger Ellis, was one of the initial 48 cases of the neurological condition.

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