Support The Moscow Times!

Mysterious 'Sleeping Sickness' Strikes Mother and Baby After Visiting Kazakh Village

A woman and her two-year-old child have been hospitalized after complaining of drowsiness following a visit to a village in northern Kazakhstan that has been plague by a mysterious “sleeping sickness,” a report said Monday.

The mother and daughter had traveled from Esil to Kalachi — a village 500 kilometers west of the country's capital Astana — to celebrate Orthodox Christian Easter when they started experiencing symptoms of the so-called “sleeping sickness,” Interfax-Kazakhstan cited the district authorities as saying.

Residents of Kalachi and neighboring Krasnogorsk have for the past two years complained of drowsiness, hallucinations and memory lapses, but health workers have failed to pin down the cause of the mysterious illness.

Some villagers have blamed the affliction on a disused uranium mine that lies nearby, but tests conducted by Kazakhstan’s National Nuclear Center showed that radiation levels were normal, Eurasianet reported last month.

Other theories include mass psychosis, poisoning and even an alien invasion.

In order to counter the problem the local authorities have established a program to relocate villagers and to date about 50 families have been moved, Interfax reported.

As of March 2015, the “sleeping sickness” had affected about one quarter of the town's population, which stands at about 425 people, Eurasianet reported.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

As we approach the holiday season, please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world’s largest country.