Fredericton-New Brunswick has announced that it has doubled its efforts to pinpoint the cause of a mysterious neurological disorder that has killed 6 people and infected 48 people, and that an expert committee will lead an ongoing investigation.
“The discovery of a potentially new and unknown syndrome is horrifying,” Health Minister Dorothy Shepherd said at a new conference. “New Brands Wickers are concerned and confused about this potential neurological syndrome. I know. “
Shepherd also announced that health authorities have created a new comprehensive survey for patients and their families. Questionnaires, which can take up to 4 hours to complete, will be completed over the next 6 to 8 weeks, and the new committee will schedule a 4-month schedule to complete clinical examination of medical records for all patients. I’m waiting.
Part of the Commission’s mission is to provide a second opinion and eliminate potential causes.
“We believe this diligence will pay off,” Shepherd said.
Dr. Edward Hendrick, one of the committee’s co-chairs, said the nine-member group faces tough challenges. “There are many illnesses that lead to this type of problem, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and other types of dementia,” said Hendriks, vice president of medical, academic, and research at the Horizon Health Network. Says.
“All these illnesses start in much the same way,” he added. And that’s just the passage of time … experts can say, “This seems like more.”
Symptoms of the disease include rapidly developing dementia, muscle spasms, atrophy, memory loss, and hallucinations. 51% of the cases are female, 49% are male, and the age group is 18 to 85 years.
“I understand that many people in the state are dissatisfied,” Shepherd said, saying that some victims’ families complained of insufficient government information sharing. Admitted.
The State Department of Health states that the first cases of the disease date back to 2015, but federal authorities did not identify potential case clusters until December 2020.
According to Shepard, the federal government’s Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) surveillance system discovered a pattern of symptoms in patients last year, ruled out the possibility that the syndrome was a human prion disease such as CJD.
News of the unknown syndrome was first revealed to various associations of health professionals in New Brunswick through a March 5 memo from Dr. Cristin Muecke, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Health in the state.
At the time of referral, most of the existing patients lived in and around Moncton, NB, and the Acadian Peninsula in northeastern New Brunswick. However, there is no convincing evidence that this syndrome is geographically related.
Shepherd refused to be more specific when asked to explain the patient’s hometown. “They aren’t just isolated in two areas,” she said. “It’s short-sighted to start targeting the region.”
Last week, the state opened a special clinic for patients. The Special Neurodegenerative Diseases Clinic is located at Moncton Hospital. Shephard confirmed that 40 patients had already been seen at the institution.
The Horizontal Health Network has also launched a website that provides more information about what is known about the disease. According to the website, the research team is investigating all potential causes, including food, environmental and animal exposure.
In March, Canadian Public Health Service researchers said the potential cause could be some form of environmental exposure.
Michael Cole Sart, head of the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease monitoring system, said that many neurological disorders have overlapping characteristics, but I’ve never seen anything like a New Brunswick cluster. Stated.
He said the fact that cases have spread over the years makes it more difficult to identify the source.
On Thursday, Mr Shepherd said the committee had to remain open to all possible causes.