This week seems to be developing a sad theme:
"A mysterious illness, featuring flu-like symptoms, is sweeping across two of Turkmenistan’s most populous regions, Ashgabat and Dashoguz. Some health care professionals quietly link the outbreak to cotton cultivation, which requires the heavy use of defoliants, pesticides and other toxic agents.
"Doctors and clinic workers say they have been instructed to diagnose the illness as an upper respiratory ailment. But a health-care official in Ashgabat, speaking on condition of anonymity, admitted that the epidemic is not caused by the spread of germs, but is instead an allergic reaction. And many experts are convinced that chemicals used in cotton cultivation are the culprits." (Eurasianet)