Unknown Illness Killed 20K

    A worker transports sugarcane in his bull-cart at the Montelimar sugar mill on the outskirts of Managua December 30, 2012. Nicaragua plans to produce some 1.5 million short tons of sugar and expects to make about 180 million dollars from exporting sugar during the 2012-2013 cycle, according to the National Committee of Sugar Producers (CNPA). Picture taken December 30, 2012. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas (NICARAGUA - Tags: ANIMALS SOCIETY BUSINESS COMMODITIES) - RTR3C05J

    Oswaldo Rivas/Reuters

    A mysterious illness being called Chronic Kidney Disease of unknown causes, or CKDu, has killed at least 20,000 people over the last decade in Central America, and is now the leading cause of death for men in hospitals in El Salvador. Theories about the cause of the disease range from toxic chemicals, sugar consumption, volcanic ash, and painkillers. However, experts do agree on one trend—that the hardest hit have been the men and their sons who work in Nicaragua’s sugar-cane region, particularly those in the town of its largest sugar mill. The government of Nicaragua and the World Bank, both of which have looked into the illness, have thrown up their hands and declared that there is nothing they can do until someone figures out what is causing the disease.

    Read it at The New York Times