It is now a well known fact that Mercury can poison us. But what if an entire town was being poisoned and the government did nothing for close to 36 years ? In Minamata Japan, the chemical company Chisso contaminated Minamata Bay with a form of mercury called Methylmercury. This mercury created a sludge on the bottom of the bay and soon was found contaminating the phytoplankton. The contamination spread like wild fire: moving up the food chain to little fish, big fish, and onto the dinner tables of Minamatan citizens. The result is a disease named after the town, Minamata disease.
Minamata disease is a neurological syndrome with a seemingly never ending symptoms list: loss of body movement, numbness in extremities, deformities, loss of vision and hearing, impaired speech, insanity, paralysis, coma, birth defects, and death within weeks. The disease also effected the livestock, dogs, and cats. The effect in cats was so severe it coined the phrase, "dancing cat fever" .
The first known report of the disease was in 1956, and over the years more and more cases were reported... but both the government and the chemical company did not acknowledged that Chisso was POSSIBLY the polluter until 1959. At the time Chisso compensated the known carriers of the disease due to lawsuits, but made no attempt to stop polluting. It wasn't until 1968, 12 years after the discovery of the disease, that the government issued a factually incorrect official conclusion about the disease. Finally, the company was forced to stop producing the product that resulted in the methyl mercury pollution, but the contamination in the water and organisms remained.