Google Maps: Remote Australian island where locals are ‘cursed’ with mysterious disease
GOOGLE MAPS is an easy way to explore the planet from the ease and comfort of one’s device - and there are certainly plenty of fascinating secrets the globe is hiding - such as this mysterious island where residents claim they are plagued by a curse.
Google Maps has highlighted an island off the coast of Australia where a mysterious disease has taken hold of numerous Aboriginal inhabitants. Many locals believe they have been stricken down with a curse - and hundreds are during a slow and painful death. Those afflicted struggle with talking, eating, swallowing, walking and going to the toilet. However, a scientific explanation for the 'curse' has been made known.
The ‘curse’ is a hereditary disease named Machado-Joseph Disease or MJD.
The neurodegenerative condition leads to lack of muscle control and is often confused with Parkinson's disease.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS): “MJD is characterised by slowly progressive clumsiness in the arms and legs, a staggering lurching gait that can be mistaken for drunkenness, difficulty with speech and swallowing, impaired eye movements sometimes accompanied by double vision or bulging eyes, and lower limb spasticity.
“Some individuals develop dystonia (sustained muscle contractions that cause twisting of the body and limbs, repetitive movements, and abnormal postures) or symptoms similar to those of Parkinson’s disease.
“Others may develop fasciculations (twitching) of the face or tongue, neuropathy, or problems with urination and the autonomic nervous system.”
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for those who suffer from MJD.
Groote Eyland is roughly 50km from the Northern Territory, which has the highest concentration and the most severe strain of MJD in the world.
Around 654 residents - the majority of whom live on the island - are at risk of developing MJD.
Over a 100 of the locals already display symptoms which “typically begin in the third to fifth decade of life but can start as early as young childhood or as late as 70 years of age,” according to NINDS.
One resident, Gayangwa Lalara, who is in her 70s and has MJD, initially thought she was cursed.
Her father and all her six brothers and sisters also have MJD, as well as her nieces and nephews - and one died from the illness.
She told The Australian: "They used to say it was a curse but it was inside us all along."
Associate professor John MacMillan, a Brisbane-based geneticist with the foundation said that remote Aboriginal communities can promote the spread of the disease because of their small genetic pool.
He told Australia broadcaster ABC news in 2014: "The combination of geographic isolation, language isolation, cultural and social isolation, when you add them all together will often result in very high frequencies of specific diseases in some specific areas."
Scientists continue to test out drugs in hopes to find a cure to the disease. Researchers are carrying out further studies on zebrafish, which are known to carry the faulty chromosome that causes MJD in humans.
Another island hiding a deadly secret is Ilha da Queimada Grande, Brazil which is swarming in huge and venomous vipers which could kill a human within an hour.
The Brazilian Navy has forbidden anyone to go onto the island, apart from some scientific visits.
Researchers have estimated that there are between one and five snakes per square meter on Ilha da Queimada Grande. Limited to birds as prey, they developed extra-potent venom in order to be able to quickly kill any bird.