- At least 48 people in Canada have come down with symptoms indicative of a brain disease.
- Episodes of pain are often followed by trouble walking, speaking, or performing basic tasks.
- Officials say they’ve ruled out environmental causes and human transmission, but they don’t have a diagnosis yet.
NEW BRUNSWICK – Dozens of New Brunswick people have been afflicted by mystery symptoms pointing to a degenerative brain disease, and authorities are still buffled as to what is causing the crippling illness.
A study leaked in March 2021 reported a cluster of cases of what appeared to be Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease: spasms, memory loss, hallucinations, and extreme weight loss due to the condition’s inability to keep people active.
There were 48 cases recorded at the time, with symptoms beginning between 2013 and 2020. However, a separate whistleblower from one of New Brunswick’s health authorities told the Guardian that the mysterious illness had affected nearly 150 people by January 2022, with many of those who became ill being young, previously healthy adults.
An inquiry into the cases, which was previously led by Canadian government scientists, has been stalled since the province was blamed. Provincial officials have pledged to release a new report on the cases soon, but the public, as well as patients and families, are still waiting for answers, according to Leyland Cecco for The Guardian.
However, no report has been issued, and the case data on New Brunswick’s public health website has not been updated since May 2021. People suffering from the ailment have no idea what to call it because there is no term or formal diagnosis for the unexplained neurological disorder.
Leg pain that turned into vision loss was diagnosed as PTSD
According to Terriline Porelle, it all started with a “electric shock” ache in her leg during the summer of 2020. In the days that followed, the anguish crawled up her arms and into her face. One optometrist told her that the 33-year-vision old’s was soon comparable to that of a 70-year-old.
Porelle lost how to write the letter “Q” one day and went to the doctor for a brain scan. When the results came back normal, provincial officials referred her to a neuropsychologist.
Porelle was diagnosed with PTSD, according to the physician. Porelle, on the other hand, has dealt with mental health issues in the past, and she claims that the sensations she’s experiencing today are nothing like the anxiety and despair she’s had in the past.
She still struggles with declining mental function and says she relies on her partner for help with daily tasks. “We’ve been given no resources from the government and no help,” she said. “I don’t know what to do. I try to keep positive, but it’s hard. There are days when I don’t know if I should even bother saving for retirement. Am I even going to live that long?”
Patients worry the investigation has slowed down
According to the January whistleblower, many cases with the symptom cluster have yet to be handled by the province, and many of the cases in backlog are among young people.
The ages of the people involved in the recorded incidents have ranged from 18 to 85. Although nine people have died as a result of illness, the province notes that six of those people died as a result of other known causes.
Officials previously researched and ruled out many environmental causes that could be causing the illness, including blue-green algae, shellfish toxicity, chronic wasting syndrome, and a toxic herbicide. None of the explanations have stuck, and some of the early cases have been left out.
Johanne Boucher, 63, told the Guardian that she just received a letter stating that her case would no longer be investigated. They advised her to have more tests, which she said she had already done, because her symptoms could be caused by Parkinson’s disease or another type of brain degeneration.
Boucher, who “can’t even order a coffee” after losing her speech in late 2021, was taken aback by the revelation. Her capacity to communicate declined during a four-year period, and she still has no reason.