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Steve Ellis (courtesy Zoom)

N.B. patients with mystery brain disease demand investigation

By Allan Dearing Mar 28, 2023 | 5:44 PM

The Green Party is urging the provincial government to investigate potential environmental causes of a mystery neurodegenerative disease affecting at least 147 patients in New Brunswick.

The Greens held a news conference in Fredericton on Tuesday with patients and their families who said the cases include 57 early-onset cases and 41 young-onset cases.

In March 2021, the province announced a cluster of patients had a neurological syndrome of unknown causes, but one year later an oversight committee determined it found no evidence of a novel illness.

Steve Ellis, whose father has the illness, said a year has already been lost with no answers.

“We don’t know why our loved ones are ill. We have zero diagnosis despite what the government of New Brunswick says.”

Ellis alleged the province is using its own final report as a barrier to further investigation.

“Their oversight committee, their neurologists, did not meet with any patients. They are using false numbers. There were no tests. Nothing was done.”

Dr. Alier Marrero has been treating the patients and he sent a letter to federal and provincial health officials in January with concerns about a link to the herbicide glyphosate.

Green Party health critic Megan Mitton brought the matter to the legislature on Tuesday afternoon with questions for health minister Bruce Fitch.

Fitch said the department has received the letter and is reviewing the contents.

“They are drafting a response. And Mr. Speaker if there’s additional information that public health would need from the doctor in question that they would go back to him and ask those questions,” noted Fitch.

The minister disputed claims there was no cooperation between the province and the feds.

“The Public Health Agency of Canada supported the results of the provincial investigation – that’s the fact of the matter Mr Speaker,” said Fitch.

“We are formally demanding federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos unmuzzle Canadian scientists and direct the Public Health Agency to uphold the Canada Health Act and reinstate federal experts into the investigation,” added Ellis.

Stacie Quigley Cormier, whose stepdaughter suffers from the mystery illness, also spoke at the news conference on Tuesday.

“Both provincial and federal health officials are misrepresenting our patient files and information, and they are using this false information as a reason to abandon a public health inquiry,” said Quigley Cormier.

“We view the actions of both federal and provincial officials as an abuse of power. It is completely unwarranted, unnecessarily cruel and as a result we have been made to suffer doubly.”


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