- Some parts of Australia have unusually high rates of motor neuron disease.
- People with MND are progressively paralyzed and typically die 2-4 years after diagnosis.
- Several factors cause the disease, and some scientists think that toxic algae is one of them.
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Algae flowers can cause a lot of problems, though mass killer fish to poison the air we breathe.
In Australia and beyond, some researchers believe that harmful flowering of blue-green algae they are connected to ever-higher rates of motor neuron disease, a situation that causes paralysis and early death.
Diseases of motor neurons progressively attack nerve cells, reducing the ability to speak, move and breathe and typically killing patients within two to four years after diagnosis, the researchers said. Sydney Morning Herald.
Death rates for MND have increased by 250 per cent in the last 30 years in Australia, scientists at Macquarie University have told Herald. MND patients and scientists are trying to understand why certain areas of the country have particularly high rates, which has led them to the algae theory.
Some flowering algae release harmful toxins into the water and into the air
Some areas of Australia have curiously high rates of MND. Riverina, an agricultural region of New South Wales, has between five and seven times national incidence.
The region is home to Lake Wyangan, a reservoir that often features foci of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae. The area around the lake is currently in operation red alert, meaning that people should avoid fishing and swimming in potentially toxic water, in addition to drinking.
Cyanobacteria are known to release a number of toxins, including a neurotoxin called BMAA. Some animal research suggests that BMAA could be one of several factors leading to the development of deterioration of motor neurons.
Researchers have found BMAA in other algae-infested watercourses in the Riverina area, but have not yet confirmed a link to MND. It is likely that neurodegenerative disease arises from a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Even in genetically predisposed cases of MND, environmental stressors such as algal blooms could contribute to the onset and progression of the disease, he told Herald Dominic Rowe, president of Macquarie Neurology. But more research is needed to better understand how these factors interact.
“Until we systematically study genetic causes and get them out of the environment, it’s hard to be 100 percent accurate on environmental factors,” Rowe said.