[W]hat? 20,000 mystery deaths in a decade? Where is the media attention to this one? Yes, it’s in today’s online version of the NYT, and you can find a few other mentions in the past few years, but for the most part this story is vastly under-reported. If this were going on here in the United States, we’d have pharmaceutical companies lining up to find a fix!
When I read this article a few minutes ago, it struck me that Derek and I talked about this very outbreak a few years ago on PID Radio, and researchers still have no idea what is causing this fatal kidney disease other than it appears to center on men who work in sugar cane fields. Since the women and children also consume the sugar, it probably isn’t the cane itself, but it might be a consequence of herbicide use. For now, it’s a mystery, but that is little comfort to the women living in the Island of Widows (what some locals call the villages near cane fields).
If you want to know more, check out the report at the NYT: Deadly Illness in Nicaragua Baffles Experts – NYTimes.com.