Can a complex cognitive disorder like Alzheimer's be determined by finding a small pixelated camel in an image full of animals? Social media users, especially on WhatsApp surely believe so.
A viral WhatsApp message states that if a person cannot find a camel in an optically created illusion, the individual faces the risk of suffering from Alzheimer's in the future. BOOM received this message on its WhatsApp helpline (+917700906111)
The image is a doctored version of an optical illusion wherein various animals have been strategically placed in a manner which resembles a human face.
The original image has been in circulation since 2009.
The camel has been inserted in the original version to create this message. BOOM found the doctored and original versions of the image. The doctored image has been in circulation since 2012.
The claim in the message that a person may be living with Alzheimer's, if they cannot observe the camel is false.
BOOM contacted a neuropsychologist as well as a neurologist to examine the claim.
Ms. Shraddha Shah, a neuropsychologist with Sir H.N Reliance Hospital and founder of Synapsium Brain Health Clinic stated that this message is a hoax.
"Such messages have no other purpose but to induce fear among people. Dementia of which Alzheimer's is a form needs further understanding and people should educate themselves rather than relying on Whatsapp forwards".
What is Alzheimer's?
Alzheimer's disease is a disorder that causes brain cells to degenerate over time.
BOOM spoke to Dr. PR Krishnan, Neurology Consultant, at Fortis Hospital Bangalore to understand the reach of Alzheimer's.
"Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia- memory loss. It accounts for 65% of the dementias".
However, Shah believes that Alzheimer's is grossly misunderstood.
"The first thing that needs to be understood is that memory loss even though is the main symptom, is not the only one. Other cognitive and functional disabilities should be tested."
Diagnostic tests are the only way to deduce and confirm Alzheimer's according to Shah.
Dr. Krishnan agrees. "Along with the slow decline in memory there are other behavioural changes such as disorientation, delusion, difficulty in concentrating, aggression, restlessness, and personality changes among others."
"Alzheimer's is primarily a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors. It is important that caregivers are patient with people having Alzheimer's, " Dr. Krishnan concluded.
Currently around 4 million people are living with some form of dementia in India while around 44 million are living with the illness globally.