A fresh outbreak of a mysterious illness has been making headlines in Canada. A neurological disease dubbed the New Brunswick Syndrome has affected dozens and killed six people in recent months in the region that gave it its name.
At least 48 people aged between 18 and 85, almost equally men and women, have been suffering from an inexplicable illness that has caused their health to swiftly deteriorate. Visual and auditory hallucinations, memory loss, difficulty walking and balance issues are among the symptoms of the mysterious condition, which is reported to have killed six patients thus far.
This week, the government of the mainly affected New Brunswick province, located on the Atlantic coast, stepped up its efforts to deal with the outbreak, which had, until recently, been overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic. An expert committee has been set up to expedite the investigation into what is being referred to as the New Brunswick Cluster of Neurological Syndrome of Unknown Cause.
“The discovery of a potentially new and unknown syndrome is scary,” New Brunswick Health Minister Dorothy Shephard told a news conference on Thursday, adding that locals have been “concerned and confused” about the new disease.
While people in the province have been suffering from alarming symptoms that appear to stem from the same unknown brain-damaging illness for the past few years, no certain cause has yet been identified. Health officials have been looking into potential environmental and animal exposure, but uncertainty prevails.
“At this point in time, we don’t know. Everything is on the table. We’re going to look at every possibility, and, hopefully, we’ll … develop a good understanding,” one of the committee co-chairs, Dr. Edouard Hendriks said. The other, Dr. Natalie Banville, admitted no advice can be given to people as to how – or whether – they can protect themselves from the disease, as the experts haven’t determined its derivation.
“We’re researching. We have no environmental causes, we have no genetic causes, we have no medication causes – we have no cause established,” Banville said.
All possibilities are being studied, including contamination through toxins, bacteria, or a virus.
To try to figure out the mystery, an extensive questionnaire has been drafted by health officials. Aimed at both patients and their families, it can take up to four hours to complete. A special clinic to diagnose and treat suspected patients has also been opened.
“It’s still a big shock,” Luc Leblanc, who has been diagnosed with the unknown syndrome, told Canada’s CTV News. “I never got any answers that I was looking for, or how to cope, or how to extend my life,” the 41-year-old man said. He is suffering from concentration problems and memory loss, and described his condition as “a ticking bomb.” “You don’t know how long you have,” he said.
Another patient’s life has also been upturned by the mysterious brain disorder. Gabrielle Cormier, whose neurological symptoms include vision problems, and sudden walking and standing inabilities, was diagnosed at the age of 20. “I can’t read, which is a shame because I love to read. I can’t move … I was very active before,” she explained to CTV News.
People living in the region have been “frustrated” for months, officials admitted this week. There have been complains of a lack of communication and transparency from health officials, with locals now demanding regular public briefings on the troubling issue.
The disease was first observed in New Brunswick in 2015 by local neurologist Dr. Alier Marrero. Over the years, more patients have emerged, exhibiting similar symptoms of dementia and strange muscle movements, among other disorders. When the number of people affected began to grow, the doctor concluded he was dealing with something that hadn’t been observed before in the medical world and sounded the alarm.
Courtesy of rt.com
‘Mysterious’ disease alarm: Some 300 hospitalized, 1 dead in India as medics fail to identify cause of patients’ suffering
At least one person has died and hundreds more have been hospitalized due to an unknown illness that has emerged in Eluru, India. Medical authorities are scrambling to identify what is causing the health problems.
Residents of the city, which is located in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, have been rushed to hospital after suffering from dizziness, headaches, vomiting, and epilepsy-like symptoms. Around 300 people have been treated for the unexplained illness in total, with more than 140 patients being discharged after receiving medical care, according to NDTV, citing health officials.
Most people seem to recover from the bizarre sickness, but one patient, a 45-year-old man, died after being admitted to the hospital with symptoms of nausea and epilepsy.
Authorities are still trying to determine the cause of the unexplained illness. CT scans have not revealed anything unusual in the patients, and cerebral spinal fluid tests also came back normal. The afflicted individuals have all tested negative for Covid-19. Blood, water, and food samples have been collected and sent to a forensics laboratory, local media reported, and health officials are awaiting the results of screenings carried out to detect E. coli bacteria.
A special team of doctors has been dispatched to the city as officials conduct a house-to-house survey in an attempt to identify potential patients, as well as find clues that could reveal the source of the illness.
According to media reports, some of the patients said they had experienced convulsions and lost consciousness after drinking tap water. Water contamination was identified as the culprit behind the string of hospitalizations, but officials have insisted that there is no evidence there is anything wrong with the city’s supply.
Courtesy of rt.com
Health officials in Wuhan, China have revealed that 136 new cases of a mysterious new strain of the coronavirus have been diagnosed over just two days, bringing the total in the city to 198.
In a statement detailing the latest escalation in figures for the major viral outbreak, Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said a third person has died from the illness, while two more are in critical condition. A further 33 cases among the newly diagnosed patients are classified as “severe.” All of the patients are being kept in isolation.
“The first symptoms were mostly fever, cough or chest tightness, and shortness of breath,” the agency said, advising anyone coughing or sneezing to wear a face mask to prevent the spread of germs.
“Pay close attention to symptoms such as fever and cough,” they added. “Seek immediate medical attention when such symptoms occur.”
Health officials said they’ve been carrying out medical observations on hundreds of people who came into close contact with those diagnosed to date, and no human-to-human transmission has been found. So far, the outbreak appears to be centered on Wuhan, but a small number of cases have been reported outside of China – two in Thailand and one in Japan.
Infectious disease experts at Imperial College London have calculated that the number of cases in Wuhan alone is approaching 1,700.
On Saturday, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention denied claims that the new outbreak is actually Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome), an outbreak of which killed more than 700 people around the world in 2002 and 2003, after cases were first reported in southern China.
Courtesy of rt.com
In a precautionary measure after a number of blood samples of chicken found positive with bird flu virus in at least three villages under Brahamagiri block, the district administration today ordered for bird culling and ban on poultry sell in the area.
Informing on the steps, Puri Collector Jyoti Prakash Das said a decision has been taken to start bird culling within the radius of 1 kilometre from the affected area. The culling will start from tomorrow, he added.
Apart from bird culling, the selling of poultry products within a radius of 10 kilometres from the affected areas has been banned along with a stoppage in supply of eggs for Mid-Day Meals provided in schools.
Notably, bird flu fear loomed large in Bhrahmagiri block in past three days after over 20,000 hens died in a mysterious disease. While blood samples of the birds were sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) in Bhopal, a number of those were taken from Patharganj, Budhibar and Masasahi villages were found positive with H5N1 viruses.
Courtesy of kalingatv.com
A mystery illness is killing East Anglia’s hares – sparking a call for the public to report sick animal sightings and help researchers diagnose the disease.
During the past month, landowners, farmers, dog-walkers and householders have reported seeing sick and dead hares in areas around Bungay, Diss and Thetford.
Despite laboratory analysis of the carcasses, animal health experts have so far been unable to establish what is causing the deaths.
So the Norfolk and Suffolk Wildlife Trusts are joining with the University of East Anglia to ask anyone seeing a freshly dead hare to record its location, photograph the entire animal, and send the information to Dr Diana Bell at the University of East Anglia.
Dr Bell has recently been studying the impacts of diseases on rabbit populations, including myxomatosis and strains of rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD).
She said: “The death of any animal is obviously distressing but we’re asking people to try and photograph these hares to help us understand what is happening.
“Getting good images of the bodies of these hares, along with their exact location, is crucial for us to rule out or identify possible diseases.”
Dr Bell said the first report was received on September 13 from a dog-walker in Bungay, who had seen a sick hare which was later found dead in the same spot. The carcass was sent to an Animal and Plant Health Agency laboratory, which was unable to diagnosis the illness.
“In the autumn we tend to get mortalities from coccidiosis, which is a parasitic disease with diarrhoea symptoms, but this hare didn’t have those symptoms,” said Dr Bell.
“We know we have got widespread RHD in rabbits and we are waiting to see if it will jump to hares. When we did the post-mortem it had hemorrhagic lungs, but it was not found in the liver.
“There was another report from a couple near Diss who had a hare dying in their garden. It ended up having quite dramatic convulsions, and it was very distressing.
“I started to ask other people and the Suffolk Wildlife Trust were getting reports of what Defra defines as mass mortalities – which is three or more dead animals in a small area. They had reports of three and six hares dead in the same field.
“We need information from the public and we need to do post-mortems to find out what is killing these animals.”
East Anglia is an important stronghold for brown hares, which have experienced a national decline of more than 80pc in the past 100 years, attributed to factors including the intensification of farming, which has limited their supply of food and habitat.
There is also no closed season for hares, which means that they can be shot legally at any time of the year, and illegal hare coursing is a rising rural concern.
John Milton, head of nature reserves at Norfolk Wildlife Trust, said: “The brown hare is such an iconic species and they are not only important as wildlife, but they also contribute to the habitat of areas like the Brecks with the wild grazing they do alongside rabbits.
“So this is potentially another concern for us along with the hemorrhagic disease which has been affecting our rabbits.”
Ben McFarland, head of conservation at Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said: “The reports of hare deaths are obviously of great concern, especially considering the importance of the populations in this region.
“We are monitoring all sites closely and asking anyone who sees an animal that is dead or unwell to get in touch.”
Hares can be distinguished from rabbits in a number of ways: Hares are larger than rabbits, with longer hind legs and black-tipped ears that are as least as long as their heads.
Courtesy of edp24.co.uk
A yet unidentified virus has killed at least four of the total 23 lions that died at the Gir Sanctuary in Gujarat (Reuters file photo)
Two of the country’s top courts have expressed worry and displeasure over the deaths of Asiatic lions at Gujarat’s Gir Forest National Park.
At least 23 lions have died in Gir in the last 20 days, an unusual series of deaths that has forced the Gujarat Forest Department to undertake a massive survey in order to identify and treat sick lions.
Initially, forest officials said that most of the deaths were due to infighting among the big cats. While that theory hasn’t been completely discounted, medical examinations of at least four lions have worryingly pointed to a yet-unidentified virus as the cause of some of the deaths.
Today, the Supreme Court and the Gujarat High Court both took note of deaths of lions in Gir. The Supreme Court said that issue was “extremely serious”, and asked the Gujarat government and the Centre to find out the reason for the deaths and detail what preventive measures they plan to take.
The Gujarat High Court, in an observation made in a similar context, questioned if illegal lion shows, during which the big cats are fed chicken, could to be to blame for the animals falling prey to viral infections.
Courtesy of indiatoday.in