Lytico-Bodig, the mysterious killer of Guam
November 16, 2009 8:06 PM Subscribe
Can an obscure disease from Guam explain the explain the appearance of neurological disorders near Marscoma Lake in New Hampshire? The only people thought to contract Lytico-Bodig were Chamorros born before 1961 and related or married to particular familes living near the village of Umatac in Guam. It was theorised that it came from eating cycad seeds, but why were there no documented cases before the 1900s, and why are there no new cases on the island today? The popular author and neurologist Oliver Sacks visited the island and has continued to study the disease. He suggests that the cause is biomagnification of a toxin produced by cyanobacteria and concentrated twice - first by the cycads, and a second time in the flesh of the fruit bats. There are no new cases, he says, because the fruit bats have been nearly hunted to extinction.
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