Mystery brain disorder in Canada. All you need to know

Updated on Mar 31, 2021 10:42 AM IST

Public health officials in the province have been tracking 43 cases of the unknown brain disease since 2015 when it was first identified, The Guardian reported.

Officials have also linked five deaths with the unknown brain disease.(Unsplash)
Officials have also linked five deaths with the unknown brain disease.(Unsplash)
By | Edited by Mallika Soni, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

An unknown brain disease has caused panic in the New Brunswick province of Canada after a string of cases were reported that involved memory loss, hallucinations and muscle atrophy, according to a report in The Guardian. People living in the province became cognizant of the disease after a memo from the province’s public health agency leaked last week which asked doctors to look for symptoms relate to Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (CJD). CJD is a rare brain disease which is caused due to abnormally folded proteins called prions.

Here’s everything you need to know about the unknown brain disease that has worried the health experts and officials in Canada:

1. Public health officials in the province have been tracking 43 cases of the unknown brain disease since 2015 when it was first identified, The Guardian reported.

2. The province's health officials told CBS News that 24 cases of the disease were reported in 2020 and six cases have been reported in 2021 itself. Officials have also linked five deaths with the disease.

3. The cases were first related to CJD as some symptoms of the rare disease like memory loss, vision loss, inconsistent jerking movements have been associated with it. Although, the link has not been confirmed till now. “We don’t have evidence to suggest it’s a prion disease,” said Dr Alier Marrero, the neurologist who is leading the investigation into the cases, according to The Guardian.

4. The symptoms of the unknown disease include pains, spasms, behavioural changes and between 18 to 36 months, the patients are said to develop decline in cognitive abilities, wasting of muscles or atrophy and teeth chattering. Some patients experienced hallucinations as well.

5. Although the health officials have not disclosed the location of the cases related to the unknown disease, most of the cases are being linked to the Acadian peninsula.

6. Some researchers have also linked the cases to environmental causes. According to the report in CBS News, some possible suspects include B-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) and domoic acid, toxins that can accumulate in fish.

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