New information raises questions about existence of brain syndrome in New Brunswick

According to New Brunswick's Health Minister Dorothy Shephard, a new epidemiological report has found there was no known food, behavior, or environmental exposure that caused the symptoms of a mystery brain syndrome.

“I think what we wanted to convey today, in particular to patients and their families is that our work isn’t quite finished,” Shephard told CTV’s Steve Murphy.

Shephard released the information following another recent outside report, which examined eight New Brunswick deaths that were initially linked to the mystery syndrome and concluded they were all due to known diseases.

Shephard would not say whether the individuals were initially misdiagnosed. Instead, she wants to wait for the outcome of another study being conducted by an oversight committee of six neurologists.

“This is an exploratory tool that we will now pass on to the clinical team, as they do their assessments,” said Shephard, who added the report is expected to be released in early 2022.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Shephard also said there have been gaps in the reporting process and that the situation was allowed to escalate, in some instances without proper oversight.

“A preliminary investigation was never really done, which was paramount to launching a determination that we had an unknown neurological disease and that we were dealing with it,” said Shephard.

“Then they realized a step was missed. It is incumbent upon the Province of New Brunswick, our department and public health, to ensure that the preliminary study was done. That’s why we have an epidemiological team in place.”

Of the 48 suspected cases, 46 of them were referred by a single neurologist. None of those 46 patients have died, and many families have requested that more information be released.