A mysterious illness is spreading across Russia’s breakaway republic Chechnya. Nobody seems to know what has caused it. The Russian authorities have sent a medical team there to try to find out what is happening. The illness, which seems to affect mainly women and young girls, leaves them short of breath and suffering from nausea.
One girl who caught the illness said she had been unable to breathe or speak. The sickness broke out in a school outside the regional capital Grozny 10 days ago and has spread to other schools in the breakaway republic. Around 75 adults and children have been affected. Some rumours suggest they have become victims of nerve gas poisoning.
One nurse said the patients seem to be in a permanent state of suffocation, and in tears. “They describe feeling as if they are about to die. They can’t talk. All they do is scream all day and night,” said one nurse. One local prosecutor has ruled out poisoning but suggested it might be mass trauma triggered after years of suffering as Russian forces fight Islamic separatists in the region.