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Health

Government scientist investigating mysterious brain disease ‘banned’ from researching outbreak

By Caitlin Tilley, health reporter for Dailymail.Com

18:57 June 3, 2024, updated 20:04 June 3, 2024



A renowned scientist who advises the Canadian government says he has no right to study an abnormal outbreak of a mysterious and deadly brain disease among young adults and adolescents.

More than 200 New Brunswick residents have bizarrely developed a dementia-like disorder that causes vivid hallucinations, an inability to speak and write, memory loss and even physical paralysis.

While the disease baffled doctors, local health officials blamed the outbreak on misdiagnosis, concluding that most patients actually suffered from common illnesses like dementia and cancer.

Now damning evidence has emerged suggesting health chiefs may have deliberately blocked investigations into other potential causes – namely exposure to toxic pesticides.

In leaked emails exchanged between Dr. Michael Coulthart, a microbiologist, and members of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), Dr Coulthart said he was “essentially cut off” from any involvement in research.

A renowned Canadian scientist says he has no right to study a mysterious outbreak of brain disease that affects more than just young people.

In correspondence seen by The Guardian, government scientist Dr Coulthart wrote that he believed he had been sidelined because of “politics”, namely his desire to investigate links to environmental exposures.

The curious problem emerged in 2021, when New Brunswick health officials said more than 40 people in the region suffered from an unknown neurological syndrome, which had symptoms similar to degenerative brain disease Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a type of prion disease, which occurs when prions, a type of protein, trigger the abnormal folding of normal brain proteins, which can cause brain disease and damage.

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Dr. Coulthart is currently the head of the Canadian Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Surveillance System.

The patients’ symptoms were diverse but serious: Some residents salivated uncontrollably while others thought they had bugs crawling on their skin.

Experts said the cases date back to 2015 and involve people aged 18 to 84, dozens of whom were healthy before being struck by the mysterious illness.

They noted that they were seeing “more and more younger patients.”

And patients are still suffering. One young woman told the Guardian that “politicians don’t want to acknowledge that something bad is happening because then they have to do something about it.”

She is forced to deal with muscle tremors and worsening coordination, and a doctor has told her that her failing memory is similar to that of patients decades older.

The woman can no longer cook because of her handshakes and she only has to eat frozen meals. He also needs to be reminded via a smart speaker to take his medication, eat and shower.

Gabrielle Cormier had to put an end to her passion for figure skating and leave university at age 20 when she fell ill in 2019, becoming so weakened that she now requires a wheelchair.

Ms. Cormier, now 24, suffered memory loss, vision problems and the inability to stand for long periods of time, forcing her to walk with a cane or use a wheelchair after falling ill.

Cormier says she had a passion for figure skating since she was eight years old, adding “it was my life”
The mysterious dementia-like neurological disease left her unable to walk independently and she had to give up skating as well as her university studies.

The investigative committee, in conjunction with the New Brunswick government, also questioned the work of neurologist Alier Marrero.

Dr. Marrero, along with Dr. Coulthart, was the first to identify the cluster in 2019, and he originally led the investigation in New Brunswick.

Dr Coulthart said in an email to a colleague, seen by the Guardian: “All I will say is that my scientific opinion is that there is something real happening in (New Brunswick) that does not absolutely cannot be explained by the biases or personal agenda of an individual neurologist.

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“Some cases might be better explained by the latter case, but there are simply too many (now over 200).”

The emails indicate senior PHAC researchers are still concerned about the cause and symptoms of the disease, which appears to primarily affect young people.

An email chain from October 2023, between Dr. Coulthart and PHAC member, Dr. Coulthart wrote that “environmental exposure – or a combination of exposures – triggers and/or accelerates a variety of neurodegenerative syndromes.”

Dr Coulthart added that because the disease was so complex, politicians used this as a “cope” to say there was “nothing consistent happening”.

“I believe the truth will become clear with time, but for now all we can do… is continue to collect information on cases that come to us as suspected prion disease,” said the Dr. Coulthart.

He had previously supported the theory that a neurotoxin called BMAA, produced by blue-green algae, could be the cause.

In March 2023, Dr. Marrero pleaded with the Canadian government to conduct environmental testing that he said would demonstrate the role of the herbicide glyphosate.

Glyphosate is regularly used by New Brunswick forestry companies to limit plant growth.

News Source : www.dailymail.co.uk
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