Moncton medical student calls for new investigation into ‘mystery neurological illness’

Click to play video: 'Moncton medical student looks to investigate further into unexplained neurological disease'
Moncton medical student looks to investigate further into unexplained neurological disease
A Moncton medical student is asking the provincial and federal health authorities to reopen their investigation into an alleged "mystery" neurological disease. As Suzanne Lapointe reports, James Paddle wants to research the possible link between the alleged disease and the spraying of a commonly used herbicide. – Jul 13, 2023

A medical student in New Brunswick has penned a letter to the provincial and federal governments calling on them to reopen their investigation into the alleged “mystery neurological illness.”

“Seeing (patients) in the office, looking them in the eyes and seeing how much pain this is causing, … it’s why I felt like I had to do something,” James Paddle said.

Paddle just finished his first year in Université de Sherbrooke’s medicine program offered in Moncton and has been working in Dr. Allier Marrero’s clinic for the past three weeks.

Marrero is the neurologist who originally called for an investigation into the mystery brain disease he believed was affecting 48 patients in New Brunswick.

The province shut down that investigation in February 2022, after an oversight committee determined there was no evidence of a new disease.

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Paddle’s letter urges the province’s Department of Health, as well as the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), to reopen their investigation.

He is collecting signatures from researchers, professors and students.

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He said some students have been hesitant to sign for fear of it hurting their chances of finding work in the province once they graduate.

“I can’t say I don’t have those same concerns, I do,” Paddle said on Thursday. “There are many that support this letter but didn’t want to put their name to it,” he said.

He is particularly interested in seeing the possible environmental links to the alleged illness, such as glyphosate and blue-green algae.

“We are seeing that these patients are chronically ill, and over 200 of them are testing for high levels of glyphosate in their bodies. But we do see that symptoms become worse and new patients consult Marrero in the summer and fall which is typically when glyphosate is sprayed,” Paddle said.

Click to play video: 'N.B. anti-glyphosate group gives Tory government failing grade'
N.B. anti-glyphosate group gives Tory government failing grade

The province’s investigation, which was supported by PHAC, did include research into environmental exposures before it was concluded.

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In an emailed statement, a representative for New Brunswick’s Department of Health told Global News that the Department had received 14 notifications from Dr. Marrero regarding “notifiable diseases or events” since January 2023 that are currently being reviewed.

They’ve created a new two-page questionnaire “to better assess this particular situation.”

“The Department of Health would welcome any additional reports of cases, which would allow the department to review the information and determine what, if any, supports or additional actions are needed,” the statement read.

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