ASTANA – A mysterious “sleeping disease” has been causing drowsiness, hallucination and partial memory loss among hundreds of residents in a secluded village in north Kazakhstan.
Scientists have not been able to explain the nature of the disease in Kalachi despite numerous attempt so far, Xinhua news agency reported.
“Sleeping disease” first broke out in early 2013 and more than 150 cases have been reported in the village which has a population of 680.
Reports by Interfax and Kazakh Telegraph Agency said medical experts believe the disease is caused by a brain disease of unknown nature but ruled out possibilities of biological infections.
Nuclear and environmental scientists who investigated the area reported no abnormal level of radiation nor concentration of toxic elements.
A leading Russian expert who had recently been treating patients in Kalachi said the disease could be caused by small amounts of radon gas seeping from an abandoned uranium mine located hundreds of metres from the village.
Geo-ecology professor Leonid Rikhvanov told the media that the mine was flooded and gas that used to fill the mine could be emitting onto the surface.
However, he emphasised his theory was yet to be proven.
Local authorities announced in January a plan to relocate all residents to neighbouring towns and villages this year.
Kalachi is located 600 metres away from the Soviet-era mine city of Krasnogorsk which had been producing uranium ores from 1960 to 1990.
The mine was closed after the dissolution of Soviet Union. – Bernama