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Kazakhstan Says No Evidence 'Sleeping Disease' Has External Causes


ASTANA -- Kazakh doctors say tests conducted in the capital have failed to determine what is causing people from a village near an abandoned uranium mine to suffer symptoms including somnolence, loss of memory, and hallucinations.

Four patients from the northern village of Kalachi were brought to Astana last week for tests they hoped would reveal the causes of the mysterious "sleeping disease" that has affected dozens of people there since March 2013.

Many in the village of 680 fear the symptoms are related to the mine where uranium ore was produced for decades before the 1991 Soviet collapse, and have asked the government to relocate them.

But at a news conference on January 12, the director of the state-run Kazakh National Scientific Medical Center, Abai Baikenzhin, said that examinations of the four patients revealed "no external factors that might have affected their health."

Baikenzhin suggested that their symptoms might have been related to existing health problems, which he said included a past hearth attack, a stroke, and diabetes.

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    RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

    RFE/RL's Radio Azattyq has been an important source of information for people in Kazakhstan for decades. In 2009, Azattyq won the prestigious 2009 Online Journalism Award for "standing in defense of citizen’s rights to seek and receive information."

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