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N.B. launching investigation into mystery neurological disease

TORONTO — The government of New Brunswick has established a committee to oversee an investigation into a mysterious neurological disease that appears to only be affecting residents of the province.

The province is tracking 48 potential cases of the neurological disease, and six people have died. New Brunswick Public Health said the first case could date back to 2013, but it wasn’t formally identified until early 2020. Symptoms began in 2018, 2019 or 2020 for most cases, the province said.

New Brunswick Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said Thursday those 48 people have been identified as experiencing symptoms of the neurological syndrome, but the province isn’t considering them to be diagnosed or confirmed cases yet. She said the investigation is ongoing, and the cause of the neurological syndrome remains unknown.

“At this time, the investigation is active and ongoing to determine if there are similarities among the reported cases that can identify potential causes for the syndrome,” she said, “and to help identify possible strategies for treatment.”

The new committee is expected to review case files of affected patients, re-evaluate identified cases and rule out other potential causes of the symptoms patients are experiencing.

According to a website established by the province to update the public on the disease, some of those symptoms include memory problems, muscle spasms, balance issues, blurred vision and behavioural changes.

The committee is expected to consist of two co-chairs – Dr. Natalie Banville of Vitalité Health Network and Dr. Edouard Hendriks of Horizon Health Network – six neurologists and one member from Public Health.

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