Mystery Mad Cow Disease-like brain illness triggering seizures and ‘imposter’ hallucinations baffles doctors in Canada

A MYSTERIOUS CJD-like brain illness that triggers seizures and hallucinations has left doctors in Canada baffled.

The illness is similar to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, (CJD), a rare and fatal brain disease, one form of which is known as “Mad Cow Disease.”

The mysterious illness has many similarities to CJD


The mysterious illness has many similarities to CJDCredit: Getty
The disease has baffled doctors in Canada


The disease has baffled doctors in CanadaCredit: BBC

Roger Ellis in his early 60s collapsed at home suffering a seizure almost two years ago.

Mr Ellis, from New Brunswick, was enjoying his retirement until suddenly his health started to decline.

His son, Steve Ellis told the BBC: “He had delusions, hallucinations, weight loss, aggression, repetitive speech.

“At one point he couldn’t even walk. So in the span of three months we were being brought to a hospital to tell us they believed he was dying – but no one knew why.”

Mr Ellis’ doctors immediately suspected CJD but all of his test results came back negative.

Back in March, officials had confirmed there had been 43 cases and five people had died in Canada from an unknown neurological disorder, similar to CJD.

The mystery illness appeared to affect all age groups to be concentrated in the New Brunswick and the Moncton regions.

When a public health memo warning of an unknown brain disease got published, Mr Ellis’ son knew that his dad’s symptoms were similar.

“The first thing I said was: ‘This is my dad,'” he told the BBC.

The mystery illness appeared to affect people in the New Brunswick and the Moncton regions


The mystery illness appeared to affect people in the New Brunswick and the Moncton regionsCredit: Alamy
CJD is also known as "Mad Cow disease"


CJD is also known as “Mad Cow disease”Credit: Getty

At the moment the number of cases stands at 48 and six people are believed to have died from the mystery illness.

Mr Ellis is now believed to be one of those patients and is under the care of Dr Alier Marrero.

According to Dr Marrero, symptoms of the mystery illness can vary depending on the patient.

The disease starts with anxiety, depression, pain, muscle aches and spasms and continues with insomnia, memory issues, language impairments, weight loss, muscle atrophy and even hallucinations.

Neurologist Dr Neil Cashman, one of those involved in the research of the unknown disease says even though patients have not shown any sign of any known prion diseases, it has not been ruled out as a possible cause.

A theory the team examines is chronic exposure to excitotoxin and another toxin called beta-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) which has been linked to diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Dr Cashman said the current list of theories “is not complete”.

“We have to go back to first principles, go back to square one,” he told the outlet.

“At this point basically nothing can be excluded.”

Cure CJD Campaign video explains what Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is and a possible new treatment


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