Investigation 29 June 2015 5 1021
Deep in the countryside of Kazakhstan lies a sleepy, little rural
village called, Kalachi. In this case though, the word, “sleepy” is
much more than a quaint, idyllic description, it’s literal! The
settlement made international headlines because of an inexplicable
“sleeping sickness” that has affected its residents for over three years
and prompted RT Doc’s first visit, six months ago. The search for a cause
revealed nothing, so several villagers seized the opportunity to
relocate but others could not bring themselves to leave their
birthplace, despite the health risks. RT Doc pays a second visit to
discover that medical science may now be on the verge of unravelling the
Founded in the 1970’s, the small village of Kalachi in northern Kazakhstan has always been a calm and safe place for its more than 6,500 residents. All of this changed around three years ago, when its citizens began being affecting by a strange sleeping sickness epidemic. 6 months after their first visit, RT Doc team returns to Kalachi, now that news is spreading of a possible cause to this mysterious illness.
Affecting hundreds of people, some more than once, this affliction causes the person to lose all energy, and have an overwhelming urge to sleep. Some scientists believe this happens due to encephalopathy brought on by a lack of oxygen to the brain. Young children can even experience hallucinations.
With no cure as of yet, many people have already fled Kalachi, as the only sure thing seems to be that the sleeping sickness is localized to that area. With a dwindling population of only 95 families, the village has turned into a ghost town. However, some people are determined to stay in their homeland.
In the end, heightened levels of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons in the air were identified as the immediate cause. Possible reasons as to how this came about range from radiation to groundwater contamination, either possibly being caused by the chemical and mineral debris which fills a nearby abandoned uranium mine.
With no solution to the problem, the local government is currently undertaking further investigations and relocation programmes, planning a complete evacuation of the village by 2016.