For many months, I've been watching the events in Kalachi, Kazakhstan...where residents are suffering from a unexplained 'sleeping disorder.' The story has grabbed increased attention abroad...thus, local officials are calling for international medical help. Here is a recent article on the latest developments:
Over the past few months, the town of Kalachi, Kazakhstan, has suffered yet another round of the mystery illness that causes its villagers to fall asleep at random for no apparent reason. The problem was first reported in 2010, and government officials—perhaps spurred on by a recent burst of international attention as well as the scale of the latest flare-up—have finally upped their efforts to get to the root of the bizarre plague. At least two other towns nearby have reported similar symptoms from their residents.
Lead doctors now claim that they may have discovered the source of the epidemic. But their findings seem weak by toxicology standards and are far from the conclusive closure locals need. So with a lack of any real cure, local authorities have just started evacuating Kalachi en masse, hoping that getting people out of the town will just eliminate the illness wholesale.
As of the last outbreak from August to September 2014, about 60 people (10 percent of Kalachi's population) had fallen asleep for days on end. A sudden wave in late December 2014 added over 30 more victims (including one non-local, a visiting Russian retiree) to the count. By the end of January, the overall number of victims had reached 126—not including one cat supposedly affected as well—doubling the affliction's toll to 20 percent of the local population. Among these latest victims was the village's administrator, Asel Sadvakasova. The scale of this outbreak led Kazakhstani Deputy Prime Minister Berdibek Saparbaev to officially call upon foreign medical institutions to help local doctors find the source of the illness and figure out exactly what the hell is going on. Read more at Officials Are Evacuating the City in Kazakhstan Where Villagers Fall Asleep At Random
The following articles are previous reports on this phenomenon:
Sleep Epidemic in Russian Town
The locals of Kalachi village in Kazakhstan and the almost abandoned Soviet town of Krasnogorsk, Russia have been suddenly falling asleep, and then waking up with no recollection of what happened.
More than 7,000 experiments into the soil, air, water and patient's blood, hair and nails have been carried out by scientists in these remote villages.
But so far, all results have come back inconclusive - although scientists fear leaking uranium could be to blame.
And villagers even fear that they buried an elderly man before the sleeping condition was known about, because they thought he was dead.
"I was milking cows, as usual, early in the morning, and fell asleep," said milkmaid Marina Felk. "I remember nothing at all, only that when I came round I was in a hospital ward."
The sleeping epidemic causes people, including children, to suddenly fall into a deep sleep, which can last from two to six days. Read more at Mystery as residents of Russian town fall asleep for SIX DAYS at a time
Kazakhstan Villagers Suffer 'Sleeping' Disorder
Every tenth villager of Kazakhstan's Kalachi has unexpectedly fallen asleep in broad daylight – some unable to wake up for several days. Despite numerous attempts to find the cause of the inexplicable disorder, the Sleepy Hollow riddle remains unsolved.
Over 600 residents of Kalachi village in Kazakhstan's north may have never read Washington Irving's 'Legend of Sleepy Hollow,' or watched the popular American TV series or film – but they refer to their homeland as "Sleepy Hollow," as everyone there is scared of an indiscriminate illness that has no cure.
People in Kalachi have been suffering from the "sleep epidemic" – as they call it – for the past couple of years. Everyone in the village has a family member or a friend who's fallen asleep for no apparent reason, with over 100 people having experienced it by now – some more than once – according to locals.
In one of the recent cases, children started falling down on the first day of school in September, with eight kids falling asleep within one hour. Before that, 20 people fainted and slept for several days, and "at least 60 at once in the winter...we laid them in rows," an ambulance worker told RTD, which traveled to the area to undertake its own investigation.
Groups of scientists and medics – including virologists, radiologists, and toxicologists – have visited the village to address the issue. Still, the causes and consequences of the sleepy condition remain unknown, leaving those affected to fear that they might one day simply not wake up.
"If you try to wake him, it seems he wants to open his eyes – but can't. He's sleeping and sleeping..." Igor Samusenko, father of a child who is suffering from the illness, told RTD. People have also described further symptoms, including hallucinations (one boy was picking snails off himself), memory loss, dizziness, and nausea.
"I'm weak, my legs feel heavy, as if I'm wearing a hundred pairs of boots, and my head is spinning," one woman told RTD. Other patients behave "like they're drunk." It's difficult to warn others and ask for help, as "your tongue gets twisted."
Doctors say that "some people [have] slept for the whole week.”
People suffering from the sleeping sickness are diagnosed with various diseases. While children are being cured from toxic encephalopathy, a brain malfunction, adults are said to have suffered strokes. But after several days in intensive care, they're back to normal life – until they feel abnormally sleepy again. Some doctors say that mass psychosis is to blame.
Many believe the extreme sleepiness is caused by the wind blowing from a mine near Kalachi. In Soviet times, the village was deemed top secret due to uranium mining. The mine closed over two decades ago, and the area is now partly abandoned. What used to be a prosperous neighborhood is now left in ruins.
Neither residents nor medics blame radiation for the sleepy anomaly.
"People worked in mines for so many years, and no one fell asleep," former miners say.
No symptoms of sleepiness have been described in studies of various forms of radiation disease, doctors say.
While radiation levels in the town and at the mine closest to it are at a normal 16 micro-roentgen per hour, the RTD team's dose rate meter showed an alarming 268 micro-roentgen per hour at an abandoned filled-in shaft mine further from the village. An independent analysis of Kalachi's water, soil, and vegetation samples did not identify anything abnormal. - RT
Authorities Begin Relocation of Kazakh Villagers Hit With Mystery 'Sleep Illness'
Kazakh authorities have begun relocating the residents of a small village that has been plagued for nearly two years by the spread of a mysterious illness marked by random bouts of days-long slumber.
Since spring 2013, residents of the northern Kazakh villages of Kalachi and neighboring Krasnogorsk have complained of a mysterious "sleeping illness," but health workers have been unable to decisively pin down the cause of the symptoms. Doctors have been referring to the illness as "encephalopathy of unknown etiology," or a brain disorder with no known origin.
Those afflicted fall asleep at random, usually for days at a time, and then suffer from hallucinations and memory loss upon waking, according to Kazakh media reports.
There has been a surge in recent weeks. Since Dec. 20, more than 30 people have fallen ill with the mysterious affliction, prompting authorities to begin relocating residents, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported.
On Wednesday, the regional administration responsible for the village of Kalachi announced that it had handed over the keys of a new apartment to one family so far, and plans to move another 40 families out of the village by the end of January, according to Interfax-Kazakhstan.
More than 100 of Kalachi's total 680 residents have been affected by the illness, and popular speculation has run rampant on its cause, with theories including mass psychosis, poisoning, insect bites, and even an alien invasion.
Last week, the Kazakh Health Ministry said it believed "vapors" that build up during the heating season in poorly ventilated houses could be to blame, Kazakh news site Diapazon.kz reported.
Tests are still being conducted to rule out any possible radiation from a Soviet-era uranium mine in the area, as well as any possible tainted water in the village, according to Diapazon.kz. - The Moscow Times
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