FREDERICTON — The New Brunswick government is stepping up its efforts to find the cause of a baffling neurological disease that has afflicted 48 residents.

Health Minister Dorothy Shephard announced today that a new oversight committee has been established to help figure out what is going on.

As well, Shephard said health officials have drafted a new, comprehensive questionnaire for patients and their families.

She said the questionnaire, which can take up to four hours to complete, will be filled out over the next six to eight weeks, and the new expert committee has a four-month schedule to complete its review.

The symptoms for the unknown brain disease include rapidly progressing dementia, muscle spasms, atrophy, memory loss and hallucinations.

The provincial Health Department says the first known case dates to 2015, but a potential cluster of cases wasn’t identified by federal officials until December 2020.

At the time of their referrals, most of the existing patients were living around the Moncton area and the Acadian Peninsula.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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