Deadly Illness in Nicaragua Baffles Experts
Resource type: News
The New York Times | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]
CHICHIGALPA, Nicaragua — During the harvest season, when exhausted workers spend seven days a week cutting sugar cane, the signs of illness were hard to spot at first.
It was in the off-season, out on the baseball field, that some residents noticed a change. Base-stealers were lethargic. Pitchers were losing their aim. In the evening, outfielders were burning up as if standing under the scorching sun of the day.
“That’s Mosquito, now dead,” said Arnulfo Téllez Aguilera, 49, pointing to a photograph of his smiling teammates before their muscles withered, like his. “That’s my brother, Danilo, dead too.”
Across Central America, a painful disease that affects the kidneys has killed at least 20,000 people over the past decade and has become the leading cause of deaths in hospitals among men in El Salvador. But the illness, often called chronic kidney disease of unknown causes, or CKDu, is so poorly understood that it still does not have a universally agreed-upon name.
Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba (MEDICC) is an Atlantic grantee.