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Can You Crack a Medical Mystery?

by Arushi Neravetla


Hi readers! This article is a medical mystery article, where you have to guess which disease is affecting the people in the story (so read carefully!!) This article is also a teaser for next week, which will be our forensic science week. We hope you enjoy this story, and that you can crack the case!


Everyone loves a good mystery, as it twas a dark and stormy night, a night so young and yet blood was dripping from his head as he escaped from the montage of horrors that he faced. Sitting right in front of me in the police station getting treated was Tommy Hardin Jr., an 18-year-old whose eyes were blood-shot with tears rolling down as the nurse finished cleaning him up.


As a detective, you get familiar with the trauma and tears, becoming perceptive to the smallest details in any case. An officer was packing up to head home for the night as he was getting ready for his next night shift, handing me the folder of all the information the station could gather saying, “Detective June, I wish you the best of luck”. As a forensic detective and examiner of what comes after me, we need your help!


Can you help assist Detective June in solving this mystery of over 50 deaths that were last seen in Mayfield Valley Farm?


  • Detective June approaches Tommy who was sitting patiently and she asks gently, sitting next to him saying, “Mr. Hardin, we should get going”. Tommy nods in agreement as she slowly leans onto me as we head inside the car to take us to Mayfield Valley.

  • We soon arrived in 20 minutes and saw the media swarming near the forensic examiners, the police, and the CDC surrounding the corpses.

  • Tommy and I head in closer to the scene, where a CDC representative informs us that this is not just an ordinary crime, but a biological warfare attack.

  • Tommy starts weeping profusely and police officials, CDC, and everyone were packing up, all except me and Tommy.

  • Looking at the file, all 50 people were attending a dinner party in this farm hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Fisher, a small couple who invited everyone, including Tommy’s family, to get together every week.


I asked Tommy at first of the details and looked at me dead with his blank eyes, but back at the farm saying, “Alright”.


Tommy’s POV:


It was 6 PM in the morning, where Dad was getting ready with my little brother and Mom was packing up the dish we were taking with us to Mr. and Mrs. Fisher’s 40th anniversary. I was tying up my shoes and got the car keys, realizing somehow that my dad once again misplaced the car keys. It was strange that his forgetfulness along with my sister and mother started to increase. I drove instead of Dad since he felt his vision getting blurred and needed a break, which is very peculiar since he is usually sharp and ready to drive us.



We arrived at 8:30 AM sharp and went inside. It was typical to see all the families gathering and soon my family faded into the crowd as I stood there alone amidst the crowd. In general, I would say it was just nothing but a time to celebrate our neighbor’s anniversary, nothing more.



The chef soon announced that dinner will be served as all the families were sitting down, ready to eat. As far as suspicious goes, there was Mr. Hatcher, staring intently at the food being served, more than usual I would say because normally he is the one who is excited to get everyone to dine with him.


I asked Mr. Hatcher if anything was wrong, but all he said was, “What is this dish, have we ever had this before?”


His question surprised me since we usually always eat this dish when we have dinner every week with the Fisher family. I didn’t say anything and could also see him struggling to swallow, so did his wife and everyone in my row. I ignored it thinking it wasn’t a big deal and tried to plead with the chef Mr. Anuko, to take away the stew, but the chef readily insisted on trying it. I gave up after the chef left his kitchen and never ate the soup since I never found cattle meat in general interesting.


Soon, I went to the bathroom to get cell service and heard deep whispering near the men’s bathroom. The voices sounded familiar, but I couldn't hear one, which had a crisp and deep growl hinted as this person talked. All I can remember as I slowly came close to hear from outside the door was “Disease”, and “Ready”.


I quickly hid in the stall as one of the men entered the bathroom and after they left, I slowly creeped out of the bathroom, running back to the dining table. However, what I had seen at the dining table was gruesome. Every single person was lying dead, as their eyes were bulging out, blood-shot. Immediately, I heard a crashing sound coming from the bathroom, so I ran out to the car as fast as I could, seeing 3 people chasing right behind me. It seems like they thought that I wasn’t dead like everyone else, so I got the keys from my pocket, trying to jiggle the lock as one of the men was slowly catching up towards the car. I got in and then I drove off into the night.


Back to the Story:


Detective June sees the pain and anguish in Hardin’s eyes as he finishes, his tears dried up on his cheeks and didn’t say anything else as he started to get up. He gave me his number if anything else was needed and a police officer escorted him back to the station in the car. First off, I need to know who these men are, and the question is, what disease can possibly cause this in the first place?


Readers? Looking at Tommy Hardin’s story so far, what do you guys think?

The Cause of Death?

  • CDC has reported on the following file June looked at that it can be possibly be:

1.) Mad Cow Disease?

2.) E. Coli?

3.) Salmonella?


Pick the right disease!



Results:

If you chose E.Coli, you are so close, but sorry to say reader, you're incorrect! E.Coli infection is usually spread through ground beef; however keep in mind the meat used was Cattle Meat. Finally, the symptoms of E.Coli don’t correlate to what Hardin explained in his story of everyone’s deaths, because they didn’t pose any symptoms such as kidney failure or diarrhea.



Next, if you chose Salmonella, sorry reader but Salmonella isn’t what CDC has diagnosed, for if the people did have it, they would have symptoms of fever, stomach cramps, and severe diarrhea as well. Keep in mind that although Salmonella could work, symptoms should have appeared from 6 hours to 6 days after infection.



Lastly, if you chose Mad Cow Disease, you are correct! CDC recently announced after looking at forensic lab reports and autopsies of the families, that they all ingested a particular dish made by the chef. It was cattle-beef stew! Specifically, Mad Cow Disease is a fatal disease that slowly destroys the brain and spinal cord of a cow.



Humans can get a form of Mad Cow disease known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. In rare cases, the infected meat can affect humans who ingest it, where surprisingly all the families ate the nerve tissue of the cattle in the soup. The leading theory of the disease is caused by infectious proteins called prions, where symptoms are usually psychotic behavior, dementia, insomnia, and death within the time of 8 months. After studying the case carefully, you can determine how these families visited weekly eating the soup, where the symptoms perhaps slowly progressed as these families have been meeting for over a year, from Hardin.



Now that we’ve determined the disease, the culprit still needs to be apprehended. I walk back to the car and start to drive back, when I see an old library near the tall hedges of the forest. There was a small shack near the old library building, almost abandoned and I slowly took out my flashlight, where the crows started cawing in unison as they watched me head inside. The window frame of the door was cracked, the curtains were all ripped in shreds and the building was eerily quiet as I made my way over to the staircase.


The library was breathtaking, where despite the old and worn down furniture, the books looked like they were in perfect condition. All of a sudden, I heard a crash near the bookcases and hid behind an unused table, where a dark and shadowy figure looked like it was searching for something, but I couldn’t make out his or her face.



My flashlight is turned back on as I flicked the switch by accident and the figure abruptly turns right towards me, so I run as quickly as I can down the staircase. The figure was running as well, booking his way down the stairs. I trip by accident and twist my ankle, landing on the hip of my body as I hold the ground with my dear life. I turned around with the figure looking right at me, as I slowly backed away from them.


Did Detective June bargain more for what she came for? Who is the mysterious figure, are they the enemy or foe?


Read to find out more on what happens with the case of the Mad Cow Disease!!!

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We hope you enjoyed reading this mystery article, and you learned a bit about Mad Cow Disease as well! This article will have a second portion, so stay tuned for more on Detective June's story! We will also be having a forensics week next week, so look out for those article as well!


If you are interested in becoming a writer or have any questions/comments about the Writing Committee, please feel free to comment down below, or email anushasoni241@gmail.com.


Thanks for reading, and be on the lookout for more articles!


Until next time,

Arushi and the writing committee :)

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