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.
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