Minamata Disease – 2,265 Victims – $86 Million

A strange disease that came to be called Minamata Disease came from a severe health crisis that occurred in Japan between 1932-1968.

Picture of the deformed hand of a person afflicted with Minamata Disease
Deformed hand of Minamata Disease victim.

This disease is a very severe and deadly neurological syndrome. It is caused by extreme mercury poisoning. A waterfront town was exposed to methyl mercury, the most deadly form of mercury, when a chemical company released methyl mercury into the waters.

The name of this town is Minamata, hence the name of the disease. The local residents, including animals, became very sick from the water and seafood.

Bio-accumulation is when small organism is contaminated and a larger one eats it, the larger one then becomes contaminated. This continues on up the food chain, this causes larger animals and seafood to become very toxic. It is healthier to eat small fish such as sardines or perch than to eat a large fish like swordfish.

Graphic showing how mercury gets into fish
Bio-accumulation. Bigger fish have much more mercury in them than smaller fish do.

The Chisso chemical company was ordered to pay $86 million in damages. There were 2,286 victims officially recognized. This worlks out to about $37,000 per victim. Hardly suitable compensation for the health problems inflicted upon them. This can never compensate for the lives they destroyed. This was done through willful neglect.

Symptoms of Minamata Disease

In the most extreme cases coma and death occurred only a few short weeks after the symptoms started to show up.

This disease is also called ‘Dancing Cat Disease’ based on what the mercury poisoning did to cats. The name is somewhat amusing. Unfortunately is caused great suffering in the cats.

There was an incredible amount of mercury in the water and sludge. So much that the company actually set up a process to recover the mercury and sell it!

This amounts to a massive admission of guilt. In 1968 the Japanese government officially acknowledged the disease. It ironically happened only 4 months after the Chisso company stopped using mercury, draw your own conclusions from this ‘coincidence’.

This Story Does Not End Well

Heavy metals, including mercury, are passed in vitro, from mother to baby. It takes 4 generations for heavy metals to disappear from the gene line. This assumes that continued exposure is stopped, which is very unlikely in Minamata.

To this day the residents of Minamata experience very high incidents of diseases.

Just a few of the health problems the residents of Minamata got:

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • all forms of cancer
  • slurred speech
  • difficulty walking

Treating Minamata

The oral chelation protocol using DMSA Synergy is a simple 3 day “on” DMSA and 11 days “off” DMSA protocol. It is unlikely that the minamata disaster and a disease like this will ever happen again, but it could. Hopefully they will know to use DMSA to help people if minamata disease ever shows itself again.

Chelation therapy is relatively inexpensive. DMSA comes in pill form and the people simply take the recommended dose (based on their body weight).

The immediate visible effects of Minamata could likely be lessened with a proper detoxing protocol. What is particularly important is that this ‘disease’ not be passed down through the generations.

Children born to parents with this disease have very sad lives. It will be several generations, at least 4, before this disease disappears. One can not help but think there will always be medical problems for these unfortunate people.

You can read a very in depth reporting of Minamata here.