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A mysterious brain disease keeps killing in Canada

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Manish Saini
Manish works as a Journalist and writer at Revyuh.com. He has studied Political Science and graduated from Delhi University. He is a Political engineer, fascinated by politics, and traditional businesses. He is also attached to many NGO's in the country and helping poor children to get the basic education. Email: Manish (at) revyuh (dot) com

A mysterious brain disease that resembles mad cow disease has residents of the Canadian province of New Brunswick concerned.

First diagnosed in 2015, according to an internal public health memo sent this month to medical professionals, the disease affects all age groups.

At the moment, a total of 43 cases have been identified, which seem to be concentrated in the Acadian peninsula, in the northeast of the province, and the Moncton region, in the southeast.

A total of five people have died as a result of the mysterious disease, the Canadian media detailed.

“People are wondering, what is it? Why is it only here? We are hoping that somebody will tell us,” said Anita Savoie Robichaud, mayor of Shippagan, a city on the Acadian peninsula.

According to CBC, “The mystery illness has similarities to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare and fatal brain disease.” A variant of CJD is bovine spongiform encephalopathy, better known as mad cow disease.

However, although it is similar to CJD, experts say that it is not the same disease.

“So in essence, this is something new, and we need to get on the stick and figure out what this is,” said Neil Cashman, a professor at the University of British Columbia School of Medicine and a neurologist with experience in prion diseases such as the case of CJD.

According to the expert, the fact that the cases are limited to certain regions suggests that it is an environmental toxin.

A possible culprit could be B-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA), a neurotoxin produced by certain bacteria that can accumulate in seafood. Another possibility is domoic acid, a toxin produced by bacteria that accumulates in shellfish, sardines, and anchovies. The lead is also on the list of possible causes of the ailment.

“All of these are speculation at this point. A lot of scientific acumen will be required to pin it down to a cause,” Cashman emphasized, before noting that the solution could take from a week to a year.

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