October 27, 2021

The Queens County Citizen

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Two experts said not to be afraid

Two experts said not to be afraid

Many questions about the existence of degenerative neurological syndrome in New Brunswick remain unanswered.

University of Alberta experts Valerie Sim and Debbie McKenzie are studying prion diseases caused by abnormally folded protein in the brain. These diseases cause the brain to die and the affected organs are often trapped with holes, Sim said.

These include Kretszfeldt-Jacob disease, a rare and deadly disease in humans, mad cow disease in cattle, and chronic waste disease, which affects deer, elk, moose and reindeer.

“Right now, I would say New Brunswick authorities are looking at this in more detail,” Professor Sim said. This does not mean that there is progressive neurological syndrome. This means that there is an interesting pattern and we need more information. “

The mention of the unknown syndrome first came from various Deputy Medical Associations in the province on March 5 from the Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Christine Muek. She asks those who suspect they have met a patient with the disease to refer them to a specialist clinic.

Chief Medical Officer of Health, Provincial Chief Medical Officer of Health Jennifer Russell said Thursday that these symptoms are similar to those of Kritzfeldt-Jacob disease, a degenerative and life-threatening brain disorder.

Ms Russell said there were 43 cases under investigation in the province, 35 confirmed cases and eight suspected cases. These cases are mostly diagnosed by doctors in the Moncton area and in the Northeast of the Province. The first is from 2015.

According to two scientists, although it was not previously known, it is still an unknown prion disease. In 1996, a variant of the Kreitzfeldt-Jacob disease was discovered in the UK, Dr. McKenzie reported.

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These diseases are easily diagnosed by autopsy due to brain damage.

It is understood that the disease is caused by some form of toxin, McKenzie said. She said authorities have confirmed that the cases are concentrated in specific areas.

“If the disease spreads across New Brunswick or across Atlantic Canada, it would be really weird,” she says. We need to talk about something very different. “

She feared it would be difficult to trace its origin. First, the first patient was associated with the disease some time ago. Second, memory loss is one of the symptoms of the disease.

“I suggest not to worry too much,” Dr. McKenzie said. More information is needed on the root or underlying cause of these problems. “

She hopes people will see a doctor if they have any symptoms related to the disease.

Professor Sim said many more questions need to be answered before concluding that all cases are due to the same cause, especially the unknown cause. The symptoms revealed so far – a host of muscle aches, atrophy, hallucinations and other problems along with rapidly developing dementia – cover a large part of the brain and can occur for a number of reasons, she said.

“Progressive and unexplained neurological syndromes are happening all over the country and in the world because we don’t know everything,” Sim says. We have not found all the things that happen to the brain. “