The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is stationing two epidemiologists in New Brunswick to investigate a string of “mysterious” brain issues.
The provinces’ public health team requested assistance from the federal health agency after a letter from a Moncton neurologist warned about an alarmingly high number of young patients experiencing abnormal, rapidly progressing neurological disease.
Neurologist Dr. Alier Marrero is asking PHAC to conduct a probe into possible environmental factors that could be contributing to the unusual surge after the health authority closed a previous investigation.
In the letter obtained by The Guardian, Marrero shared laboratory tests that showed “clear signs of exposure” to the broad spectrum herbicide glyphosate, with levels “many times over the detection limit.”
The January 2023 letter came after Marrero discovered a cluster of 48 patients who were experiencing what was being called a rare and fatal brain disease. His previous calls for help were closed in 2022, leaving him with a sense of abandonment by official health authorities.
Marrero first alerted authorities of this unfolding in early 2020, after an unusual number of reports of referrals were seen in the Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Surveillance System (CJDSS).
CJDSS is a federal monitoring system that works with provinces and territories to monitor cases of human prion diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD).
Now, that number has grown to more than 147 patients with the youngest being 17.
Marrero expressed concern that patients are experiencing advanced neurodegenerative diseases which include (but are not limited to) severe pain syndrome, dementia, and muscle and brain atrophy.
“PHAC confirmed its epidemiologists will work under the supervision of New Brunswick public health and conduct a ‘three-day scoping exercise that will include an on-site review of patient records that have been collected to date,’” as reported by the CBC.
The report details clashing communication between Dr. Marrero and New Brunswick’s Chief Medical Officer of Health (MoH) Jennifer Russell.
The MoH claims that Marrero had not fulfilled paperwork requirements according to legislative regulations.
Marrero refuted this claim, stating that he found it “regrettable” that Russell did not express concern for the health of patients and the New Brunswick population.
The use of glyphosate in New Brunswick has been heavily criticized by advocacy groups, while Health Canada upholds the scientific rationale used to approve the herbicide and downplays the carcinogenic risk to humans.