; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Just the Facts?: Mysterious Nodding Disease -- Slimed! -- Sleepwalker Drowns in Lake

Happy Holidays...thanks for another great year!

I'm going to take a break on Christmas Day...then start again on Monday. It's been a strange year...but with your support, we'll continue to forge forward. Lon


What Is the Mysterious Nodding Disease Spreading Across Uganda?

It seems like an amusing ailment: the major visible symptom is nodding a lot while you eat. Hell, I know plenty of healthy people that do that. But this new disease is spreading fast in Africa, and claiming lives as it goes.

Large swathes of northern Uganda are experiencing an outbreak of a disease currently known as nodding syndrome, reports New Scientist. It causes children and adolescents to nod violently whenever they eat, and can often result in death.

So far, people are guessing that it might be an unusual form of epilepsy, brought on by exposure to a parasitic worm responsible for river blindness. That's backed up by the fact that virtually all of those affected so far live near rivers.

But that is all just a guess. Nobody really knows exactly what it is.

There are major outbreaks across the Ugandan districts of Kitgum, Pader and Gulu — and so far, 66 children and teenagers have died in Pader alone. In total, over 1,000 cases have been diagnosed since August.

So what are people doing about it? Whatever they can. There's currently no known cure, so Uganda's Ministry of Health is using anticonvulsants to treat its symptoms.

Meanwhile, the disease is continuing to spread. It's reached the Ugandan district of Yumbe, and cases are already being reported in South Sudan.

Researchers at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are trying to get to the bottom of exactly what nodding syndrome is. Let's hope they work it out real fast. - gizmodo


Sleepwalker drowns in lake

A 55-year-old New Jersey woman with a history of sleepwalking has drown after unconsciously walking across a train trestle near her apartment and falling into a lake, police believe.

Friends and neighbors of Charlene Ferrero continue helping police in Oaklyn, N.J., piece together the strange chain of events that led to her death sometime over the weekend.

Saturday night, police received reports from neighbors that a disoriented woman was walking down the street in her pajamas, The Daily Mail reported.

Friends became worried Sunday morning after someone found her cell phone in the grass nearby her apartment. They reported her missing after arriving at her apartment to check up on her and finding the door unlocked and her keys, purse and wallet on a chair.

After a fruitless search, crews found Ferrero's body Monday night in nearby Newton Lake.

Toxicology reports on Ferrero's body are being conducted to determine whether, among other things, she might have taken Ambien or other sleep medications that have been known to cause sleepwalking. According to the Daily Mail, neighbors had witnessed Ferrero sleepwalking firsthand not very long before the accident.

Friend and neighbor Teresa Cerini said Ferrero knocked on her door late at night completely unaware of her surroundings, acting as though two were waitresses at a restaurant.

"[Ferrero] goes, 'I'm so sorry. The people at table two ordered the eggs,'" Cerini told Philadelphia's WPVI-TV News.

Sleepwalking episodes have been documented time and again, yet scientists are still unsure what exactly causes the strange and often dangerous behavior. The New York Times article "Some Sleeping Pill Users Range Far Beyond Bed" links the behavior to sleeping pills like Ambien, describing instances where people have been observed driving, urinating on the street, and getting in physical altercations without any recollection of it later.

But that doesn't explain all sleepwalking cases, especially in people like Ferrero who say they were sleepwalking as children. Earlier, this year, The Daily Mail reported on a study linking sleepwalking to a genetic defect that can cause the behavior occur in generations of family members, though scientists admitted that much work needed to be done. - THP



Residents of a Derbyshire village were left baffled when mysterious yellow blobs began springing up in grassland.

The slime-like substance was spotted in fields and in gardens near The Settlement in Ockbrook.

Alan Newman, from Erewash Borough Council, who was called to deal with the issue, said it was eventually found to be the slime mould Fuligo Septica.

He said the mould, which resembles scrambled egg, could move very slowly along the ground.

Mr Newman said: "I'd seen slime moulds before but I didn't know what species it was.

"The lifeform we were seeing was a plasmodium which is multi-nuclear and can move very, very slowly just like an amoeba can.

"Apparently the film The Blob was inspired by this species but it can't do any harm at all other than possibly if someone was allergic to it they might get hayfever."

Mr Newman said the mould could be spread by spores blowing in the wind or by dogs being walked in the fields.

The substance, commonly known as "dog vomit slime mould", appeared in early December but has now almost disappeared.

He said he thought the cold weather had now killed it off but warned it could return in warmer wet weather.

The council said the mould was relatively rare and there had only been a couple of cases reported in Derbyshire in recent years. - BBC


The spirit of Kim Jong-Il controls nature

On Saturday morning when Kim passed away, layers of ice ruptured with an unprecedentedly loud crack at Chon Lake on Mount Paektu and a snowstorm and strong winds hit the area, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

Mount Paektu is considered a holy place for North Koreans as the country's founding father Kim Il-sung commanded anti-Japanese guerrillas from a secret camp there.

North Korea maintains his son Jong-il was born there in 1942. Historians say he was actually born in Siberia, where his father had taken refuge from Japanese troops.

The snowstorm ended suddenly at dawn on Tuesday and the sunrise lit up the horizon and the mountain peaks, the news agency said.

A message from Kim Jong-il carved on the rocks – "Mt Paektu, holy mountain of revolution. Kim Jong il" – glowed brightly, it said, in a phenomenon that lasted till Tuesday evening.

A glow was seen atop the mountain's Jong-il Peak for half an hour on Monday when the death was announced by Pyongyang, according to KCNA.

A natural wonder was also observed around Kim Il-sung's statue on Tonghung Hill in the northeastern city of Hamhung.

"At around 21:20 (1220 GMT) Tuesday a Manchurian crane was seen flying around the statue three times before alighting on a tree," the news agency said.

"The crane stayed there for quite a long while with its head bowed and flew in the direction of Pyongyang." - telegraph



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