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Rare Form of Alzheimer's Found in U.K. Chemical Accident Area

One case found near location of accidental discharge of aluminium sulfate

FRIDAY, April 21 (HealthDay News) -- A rare form of Alzheimer disease has been detected in a patient from a town in southwest England that was the site of an accidental discharge of 20 tons of aluminium sulfate into the local water supply almost 20 years ago, according to a report published online April 20 in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. Although the authors stop short of attributing the case to the accident, high levels of aluminium were found in the patient's brain.

Chris Exley, Ph.D., of Keele University in Staffordshire, U.K., and colleagues report on a 58-year-old woman, who was 44 at the time of the accident, who was referred to a neurologist after presenting with repeated headaches, problems finding words, difficulty with simple calculations and a tendency to hallucinate.

A year later she died and a postmortem examination of her brain revealed signs of sporadic early-onset beta-amyloid angiopathy. Very high levels of aluminium were detected in the affected areas of her brain. The study authors recommend testing survivors for impairment of intellectual ability.

"A clearer understanding of aluminium's role in this rare form of Alzheimer-related disease should be provided by future research on other people from the exposed population as well as similar neuropathologies in people within or outside this group," the authors conclude.

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