According to news reports, Canadian officials are racing to find the cause of a mysterious brain disease that has afflicted more than 40 people in the province of New Brunswick.

The symptoms of mystery illness resemble them. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), A rare and fatal brain disorder, and includes memory loss, hallucinations and muscle atrophy, According to The Guardian.

Earlier this month, Canadian authorities alerted doctors in the New Brunswick area that they were conducting a cluster surveillance of 43 cases of neurological disease of unknown cause, The Guardian reported. The first identified case dates to 2015, but authorities have noted an increasing number of cases in recent years, with 24 cases reported in 2020 and six so far in 2021. According to cbc news. Five deaths have been linked to the disease.

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Doctors previously suspected that the cases were of CJD, which is caused by an abnormally twisted protein called a prison. But there is no evidence of CJD in the tests conducted so far, nor of any other related pathological disease.

“There is no evidence, not an indication – even performed in three corpses – of a human prion disease”, Drs. Neil Cashman, a professor at the University of British Columbia who studies prion diseases and joins the new. Investigation, Told CBC News. “It came as a surprise to me, clearly.”

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Many research teams are now investigating the cause, which may be a new disease or several different disorders that are already known. “This was one of the reasons for identifying the weapon,” said Cashman.

The Guardian reported that patients with the disease have progressively worse symptoms in 18 to 36 months, ranging from uncontrolled pain and cramps to cognitive decline, muscle wasting, and teeth licking.

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According to CBC News, most of the cases reported so far have been identified near the Acadian Peninsula in northeast New Brunswick and Moncton, a city in southeastern New Brunswick.

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Given that the cases are confined to a certain area, it is possible that these cases are due to an environmental poison, CBC News reported.

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Some possible suspects include B-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) and domoic acid – both toxins that sometimes accumulate in fish and shellfish, Cashman said. However, he insisted that this was just speculation for now and it may take time to find the right reason.

He said, “It is possible that the ongoing investigation will give us the reason for this in a week, or it is possible that it will give us the reason for it in a year.”

This article originally appeared on LiveScience.