(London Guardian) One day last summer, Viktor Kazachenko set off across the steppe from his village in northern Kazakhstan. He was driving to the nearest town on some errands, but he never arrived.
"My brain switched off," he says. "That's it. I don't remember." Kazachenko had been hit by the so-called "sleeping sickness" that is plaguing Kalachi, a remote village about 300 miles west of the country's capital Astana.
The mysterious illness has sent residents into comas, sometimes lasting days on end. "I was going to town on 28 August," Kazachenko told EurasiaNet.org, still disoriented by the experience. "I came round on 2 September. I understood [on waking up] in the hospital that I'd fallen asleep."
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Kazachenko blacked out while driving his motorcycle, with his wife riding with him.